Category Archives: Biblical Studies

Prof. Yosef Garfinkel at Florida College

Prof. Yosef Garfinkel spoke last evening to an appreciative audience of about 200 students, faculty, and visitors at Florida College, Temple Terrace, Florida. Garfinkel is Yigael Yadin Chair in Archaeology of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His archaeological work has specialized in the Neolothic period, the Chalcolithic period, and the Biblical kingdom of Judah.

Prof. Yosef Garfinkel speaking at Florida College. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Prof. Yosef Garfinkel speaking at Florida College. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This was Prof. Garfinkel’s second time to speak at Florida College. This came about as a result of the archaeological participation of Luke Chandler in two recent projects directed by Garfinkel, the work at Khirbet Qeiyafa and at Tel Lachish. Those of you who follow Chandler’s blog will have some insight into this work. Luke has taken several Florida College faculty members, students, and alumni, to participate in these digs.

Yossi, as he is known to many, spoke of the need for regional research, to examine when “the Kingdom of Judah spread into the Shephelah (south and west of Jerusalem.” Khirbet Qeiyafa, a brief study at Khirbet Arai, and the fourth expedition to Lachish are being used to answer this question.

The archaeologist told how he chose where to begin the fourth Lachish expedition. He chose the northeast corner because of access to water, fertile lands, and a road. He thought this would be an ideal location for a city gate. Indeed, a gate has been located in the area. Through the use of some excellent aerial photographs he showed the location of this recent work.

Earlier in the day Luke and I had lunch with Prof. Garfinkel at a nice local restaurant near Florida College.

Luke Chandler, Yosef Garfinkel, and Ferrell Jenkins.

Luke Chandler, Yosef Garfinkel, and Ferrell Jenkins with a backdrop of Tel Lachish.

I took along some black and white photos and contact prints made at Tel Lachish during the third expedition to Tel Lachish in 1980 when four Florida College faculty members  (Jenkins, Jim Hodges, Phil Roberts, and Harold Tabor) participated in the dig. That project was under the direction of David Ussishkin. I expected Yossi to say, “You haven’t aged much,” when he saw a photo of the four of us with Prof. Ussishkin, but instead he said, “Is that David?”🙂

Ferrell Jenkins sharing 1980 photos from Lachish with Yossi Garfinkel. Photo by Luke Chandler.

Looking over black and white photos from Lachish made in 1980. Photo by Luke Chandler.

While we were waiting for our lunch we inquired about the progress on a water shaft or tunnel at Tel Lachish. Prof. Garfinkel took a napkin and drew a sketch of the area. We got our lunch but are still waiting patiently for a water system to be revealed at Lachish.

Prof. Garfinkel draws a sketch of the area considered for a water shaft at Tel Lachish.

Prof. Garfinkel draws a sketch of the area where he thought a water shaft might be found at Tel Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Biblical Studies faculty shared a dinner with Prof. Garfinkel prior to his 7 p.m. lecture. I was pleased to be included, along with Luke and his family.

There are several posts on this blog about Lachish. Just use the search box to locate them.

Leichty: “We have forty thousand of these things here”

The Agade list reports the passing Monday night of Dr. Erle Verdun Leichty (1933-2016), Emeritus Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Assyriology) at the University of Pennsylvania.

The announcement says,

In 2006, a number of colleagues and students banded together to produce “If a Man Builds a Joyful House. Assyriological Studies in Honor of Erle Verdun Leichty” (Brill). This volume is available for download at < http://tinyurl.com/zgdf9pb>. In it, his Penn colleague Barry Eichler tells about “Cuneiform Studies at Penn: From Hilprecht to Leichty,” where can also be found details on Leichty’s fine career and contributions.

I did not know Dr. Leichty, but did have a chance meeting with him at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 2004. I was looking for a particular ancient document and inquired of the staff. They could not provide the answer but said that Dr. Leichty might be able to help me. When I arrived at the research area where the cuneiform tablets were kept, Dr. Leichty cheerfully left the work he was doing and spent some time with me. He said the document was not in their collection. He told me about the dictionary he was working on.

Dr. Erle Leichty showing the cuneiform tablets at the University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Erle Leichty showing the cuneiform tablets at the University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

What impressed me that day was that Erle Leichty cheerfully took time to answer a question from an unknown. As I was leaving the research lab we passed the cabinets where some of the cuneiform tablets were stored. He pulled open one of the drawers and picked up one of the tablets. He said, “We have forty thousand of these things here.”

I have forgotten what document I was looking for, but I have not forgotten that pleasant meeting with Erle Leichty. That was a nice day.

Index of articles on Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus

Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus.  Our total number of posts has now grown to more than 1800 and this makes it difficult to locate a post you may need. This index is prepared to assist you in your study of the birth of Jesus in ancient Bethlehem. Most, if not all, of the posts include at least one photo illustrating the lesson.

Fountain at Franciscian Custody Shepherd's Field near Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fountain at Franciscan Custody Shepherd’s Field near Bethlehem.

Sheep at fountain of Franciscan custody Shepherd's Field near Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sheep at fountain of Franciscan custody Shepherd’s Field near Bethlehem.

Other places near Bethlehem. Most of the links below are related to Herod the Great and the fortress he built near Bethlehem. I see that I have normally used the spelling Herodium, but sometime Herodion.

Historical Connections to Modern Christmas Celebrations. These post are post-biblical, historical references to customs associated with Christmas.

When other posts on this subject are written I will try to remember to update the list.

Note: This post is a repeat from Dec. 12, 2014

Books for self and others #3 – books by David E. Graves

David E. Graves sent me two of his recent books. The first to mention is Biblical Archaeology: An Introduction with Recent Discoveries that Support the Reliability of the Bible. I like the subtitle: An Introduction with Recent Discoveries that Support the Reliability of the Bible. This is a large paperback of 375 pages, published in 2014.

  1. Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
  2. Archaeology and Biblical Manuscripts
  3. Genesis
  4. Exodus and Conquest
  5. United and Divided Monarchy
  6. The Gospels
  7. Acts and Epistles
  8. Revelation

Graves, Biblical ArchaeologyBiblical Archaeology includes more than 140 charts, maps and photographs (all in black and white), a glossary, extensive bibliography and index.

Dr. Graves holds a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, has been involved in teaching the Bible and archaeology for more than 30 years. He has participated in archaeological digs for several years.

This book will not please the person who wants a slick paper, large print book filled with color photos. It will be extremely helpful to the person who would like to have a thorough survey of Biblical Archaeology.

Key Themes of the New Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes is a 2014 paperback of 441 pages. Here are the chapters:

  1. Kinds of Literature
  2. Birth and Early Years of Jesus
  3. Ministry of Jesus
  4. The Death of Jesus
  5. Resurrection and Ascension
  6. The Founding of the Church
  7. The Formation of the Church
  8. The Development of the Church
  9. The Future of the Church
  10. Conclusion

This book covers so comprehensive that one is bound to disagree with a point here and there. Points that I observed gave me opportunity to think and expand my thinking. The book is available in Kindle format for about half the price. Graves also has a similar book dealing with the Old Testament themes.

David maintains Deus Artefacta, a blog about issues like those discussed in these books.

I provided five photos for this book, and two for the book on archaeology.

A nostalgic remembrance

In May, 1984 I directed at tour to Israel, Egypt, and Rome. With the group ready to return from Rome to the USA, I went to Athens to meet two of my Florida College colleagues, Melvin Curry and Phil Roberts. The next day we took a flight to Samos, Greece and a ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey. There we picked up a car and visited the sites of the seven churches of Revelation, and other biblical-related places, in western (or Aegean) Turkey.

The photo below was made at Colossae. It was difficult to get to Colossae in those days, but we had come a long way and did not want to be denied. I had read an article by Dr. Harold Mare about a visit to the site and the wish that an excavation could be undertaken. We followed the dirt road to the bank of the Lycus River where this photo was made. Beyond the tell (huyuk, in Turkish) of Colossae is the snow covered Mount Cadmus. The city of Honaz is hidden from view by the mound.

Melvin Curry and Ferrell Jenkins at Colossae. Photo by Phil Roberts.Melvin Curry and Ferrell Jenkins at Colossae in 1984. Photo by Phil Roberts.

After our visit in Turkey we took a variety of boats to Samos, Patmos, Rhodes, and Crete. From there we took a flight back to Athens to complete our tour together.

Melvin served as chair of Biblical Studies at Florida College prior to my stint. We see each other occasionally and enjoy a short visit now and then. Phil succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the young age of 57 in 2005.

After Phil’s passing, Marty Pickup, a younger teacher at Florida College, and I prepared brief tributes to him. I am posting, for the first time, a link to these tributes at BibleWorld.com here. Former students and friends might enjoy reading these after a 10 year lapse. Marty died suddenly at the age of 53 in 2013.

Three cities of the Lycus River valley are significant to New Testament studies. The saints at Colossae were the recipients of one of Paul’s epistles (Colossians 1:1-2). Hierapolis is mentioned in Colossians 4:13. Laodicea is mentioned in Colossians (2:1; 4:13-16), and was the recipient of one of the letters of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:11; 3:14).

Cities of the Lycus River Valley.

Cities of the Lycus River Valley. Made with Bible Mapper.

That was a wonderful trip, and one of many such personal study trips I have been blessed to make in the Bible World.

Hastings five volume Dictionary of the Bible

A few weeks (months?) back, after a long wait, I received the 5-volume A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by James Hastings, in Logos format. I have mentioned earlier that this is an old set that is not a substitute for owning newer materials. The fifth volume is an Extra Volume that includes some special studies. William M. Ramsay wrote sections on Roads and Travel in the New Testament. This material was published in 1911 and 1912.

Ramsay also wrote the Dictionary entry on Troas. Here I will share a few excerpts from that material that I think will illustrate the value of such material.

TROAS (Τρῳάς, or more correctly Ἀλεξάνδρεια ἡ Τρῳάς [Alexandria Troas]) was a city on the Ægean coast of Asia Minor, opposite the small island of Tenedos. The district in which it was situated was sometimes called as a whole Troas, and is in modern times generally called the Troad; it was the northwestern part of the land of Mysia….

It became one of the greatest and largest cities of the north-west of Asia. In the coasting voyage system of ancient navigation, it was the harbour to and from which the communication between Asia and Macedonia was directed (cf. Ac 16:8, 20:5, 2 Co 2:12). Owing to the greatness of Troas and its legendary connexion with the foundation of Rome, the idea was actually entertained by Julius Cæsar of transferring thither the centre of government from Rome (Suet. Jul. 79); and some similar scheme was still not wholly forgotten when Horace protested against it in Od. iii. 3. Hadrian probably visited Troas and it was perhaps his interest in it that led the wealthy and politic Herodes Atticus to build there an aqueduct (the ruins of which were imposing in very recent times) and baths….

The route followed by St. Paul, with Silas and Timothy, from the Bithynian frontier near Dorylaion or Kotiaion, brought the party to the coast at Troas (Ac 16:6–8). There can be little doubt that this road led down the Rhyndacus valley past the hot springs Artemaia, sacred to Artemis, on the river Aisepos.

Don’t dismiss the “old guys” in your studies, but don’t limit your studies to them.

Ruins of the Bath of Herodes Atticus at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the Bath of Herodes Atticus at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Don’t confuse the Herodes Atticus mentioned here with the Herod’s of the New Testament. Herodes Atticus was a wealthy Greek from Athens who later became a Roman senator. The dates for his life are given in several sources as about A.D. 101–177. Those who have visited Athens may recall seeing the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slopes of the Acropolis.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slope of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slope of the Acropolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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.