Category Archives: Culture

Parrot: It is necessary to see in order to understand

When I began to learn of and appreciate the work of André Parrot, Curator-in-Chief of the French National Museums, Professor at the School of the Louvre, and Director of the Mari Archaeological Expedition, I purchased most of those masterful little books he wrote about Biblical cities. In connection with the recent post about Nineveh I took down my well-marked copy of Nineveh and the Old Testament (1955) and began to read again.

André Parrot writes of his April 1950 arrival at Mosul.

During the twenty years spent in Iraq or in Syria, we had never had an opportunity to cross the ‘Assyrian triangle’ Once again we realized how necessary it is to see in order to understand, and especially to hold in the memory. Knowledge gained from books is certainly not enough, for names which are not attached to any reality are nothing more than ghosts. Ghosts of cities, shadows of men, vague floating shapes, without solidity, though one tries to capture it with the aid of a drawing, a photograph or a vivid description. All students of archaeology know this by experience: nothing can replace actual contact with the object. That is why museums are so important; because there one can recognize the long chain of human history stretching out continuously from its beginning, but in which, instinctively we have a special interest in detecting and observing the first links. But the object is a prisoner in its glass case. Tom from its natural surroundings it has lost its true speech. Nevertheless it exerts a pull, it beckons one to take the road. It is impossible to contemplate the Assyrian reliefs in the Louvre or the British Museum without calling up the image of Nineveh.

Parrot points out that a visit to Nineveh can be disappointing “if one expects to see murals or palaces.” These things, he says, have been destroyed or crumbled away.

No kingdom endures forever, as the prophet Daniel reminded us long ago. Parrot says that he had only four days to visit the Assyrian Triangle (Nineveh, Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Asshur). In the evenings during his visit, he stayed with the Dominican Fathers. He says his memory of Nineveh,

is bound up with that of Mosul and the white cell in the monastery where, every evening of that short stay, we were able to meditate only a few yards from the Assyrian capital, on the vanity of empires and the fate which awaits all of them.

For the same reasons I have spent many years encouraging Bible students to visit the Bible lands.

The British Museum displays many reliefs from Nineveh. Information posted with the relief below says that it dates to about 700-692 BC. It comes from the SW Palace, Rm. 14, panels 13-15. After the capture of Alammu, a town of uncertain location, the prisoners are brough before the Assyrian king. Some carry heads of the dead. The king, Sennacherib, was shown in his chariot, but this part is now lost (WA 124786-7). Click on the photo for a larger image.

This Assyrian relief from Nineveh shows Prisoners from the town of Alammu. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This Assyrian relief from Nineveh shows Prisoners from the town of Alammu. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

Pilate used coins to promote the Emperor Cult

After the death of Herod the Great, his son Herod Archaelaus (Archelaus, Matthew 2:22) ruled over Judea until AD 6. His misrule prompted Rome to appoint a series of prefects or governors over Judea. There were 15 governors appointed from Coponius (AD 6-9) to Gessius Florus (AD 64-66).

Pontius Pilate served as Governor of Judea from AD 26-36 (Matthew 22:7; Luke 3:1).

Carl Rasmussen called my attention to an excellent article by Joan E. Taylor in New Testament Studies dealing with the part played by Pilate in promoting the Imperial Cult. Taylor, now Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College in London, says that the coinage of Pilate and the Pilate inscription from Caesarea,

“indicate a prefect determined to promote a form of Roman religion in Judaea” (Taylor, Joan E. “Pontius Pilate and the Imperial Cult in Roman Judaea.” New Testament Studies 52. 2006: 555-582.)

Pilate minted two types of coins. The first coin, minted in AD 29, shows three bound ears of barley on the obverse. The inscription reads “Julia, of Caesar.” After the death of Livia, wife of Augustus, and mother of Tiberias, she was given the name Julia. One ear of barley is standing and two are drooping. On the reverse we see a libation ladle (simpulum) used by Roman priests to pour wine over sacrificial animals. The inscription reads, “TIBEPIOY KAICAROC (of Tiberius Caesar) and date LIS” (Hendin).

Coin minted by Pilate in A.D. 29.

Coin minted by Pilate in AD 29.

The second coin, struck in AD 30, shows a lituus, a wooden staff or wand used by Roman augures to signify their authority. The inscription on the obverse reads TIBERIOY KAICAROS (Tiberius, Caesar). The reverse shows a wreath with the date.

Coin minted by Pontius Pilate showing a lituus.

Coin minted by Pontius Pilate in AD 30 showing a lituus.

Taylor describes the coins of Pilate’s predecessors as showing primarily agricultural images. She says,

Pilate’s coins, by contrast, depict two key items of specifically Roman religious spiritual use: the lituus and the simpulum. In depicting these instruments on the Judaean coinage Pilate advertised particular rituals of exclusively Roman cult. These instruments were not generic to all cults in the Empire, which now embraced the Hellenistic world, let alone to Jewish or Samaritan rituals, but had emblematic and ritual uses within Roman rites alone. The ritual instruments themselves are described by terms not used for profane utensils, even when these utensils are quite similar (see Arnobius Adversus Nationes XXTV.1-6). They were entirely sacred implements, and they were cared for and stored in sacred space. (558-559)

Carl Rasmussen discusses Pilate’s coin showing the lituus here.

Auschwitz happened in my lifetime

Over the years I have been able to visit some places that proved exhilarating. Others have left me somber and contemplative. None more than Auschwitz.

Seventy years ago today Soviet troops entered the camp and liberated the survivors. The iconic sign at the entrance reads “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” (“Work makes free”). There is truth in the statement by itself, but in this case it was deceptive. Reports say that about a million people, mostly Jews, were killed there between 1940 and 1945.

The entrance to Auschwitz. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1991.

The entrance to Auschwitz. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1991.

Numerous questions come to mind as we contemplate this horrible tragedy. Why did it happen? Why were Jews singled out for elimination? Has something similar, on a lesser scale, happened to other groups? Doubtless. Could it happen again? In the United States? Could Christians face a similar situation?

When we think that we are superior to other humans we overlook the basic premise of creation.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

The apostle Paul spoke to the same issue before the Areopagus in Athens.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Acts 17:26-28 ESV)

The Google Cultural Institute has produced an interesting presentation on the “Evacuation and Liberation of the Auschwitz Camp” here.

“You shall not steal…You shall not covet”

“You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:15-17 ESV; cf. Romans 13:9)

The Ten Commandments, given to the nation of Israel, were clear about the attitude one should take toward the property belonging to others. Coveting causes one to desire the wife, or the property, of another man.

The reason the donkey and ox of another was not to be coveted or stolen was because these were the man’s means of income. How could he work without his donkey or ox?

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It may be that none of my readers own a donkey or an ox, but the principle is clear. You shall not take that which belongs to another person. When I was teaching I had to deal with this issue a few times. I am confident that it happened other times, but I did not know about it at the time.

When a student turns in a report or paper that was written by another student he/she is stealing the work of another and pretending that it is his own. Occasionally a student will look over and take an answer that another person has given to a question. That is stealing.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is such a thing as intellectual property. The government of the United Kingdom describes intellectual property as “the words you’ve written.” It includes “things you write, make or produce.” Like photos, for example.

A student once told me that there was a student on campus who would make a CD of ten of your favorite songs for $1 for each song.  What if a person spends literally several thousand of dollars to purchase equipment, travel a long distance and make photos. Would it be o.k. to take that property and treat it as one’s own.

Several years ago I had a young person to copy some of my posts without permission and post them on his own web site. He cropped the photos to cut off the copyright notice. He said he didn’t know. His web site was closed down.

Recently someone living in a fashionable neighborhood in another country registered a internet site using my name. (I could post a photo of his house from Google earth!) He had this entire web site posted on his new domain, but he made it impossible for readers to reach me. All Email was directed to him (or her?).

There are strict laws governing this sort of thing. In the USA we have the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). I have learned that some (perhaps most or all) of the hosting companies take this seriously. The DMCA “implements the 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)” (Wikipedia, here), to which most of the nations in the United Nations subscribe. Once I got to the correct company, the offending web site was closed very quickly.

Even the Code of Hammurabi (ruled 1728-1686 B.C., according to Pritchard) contained numerous laws containing the penalties for stealing. Law 8 says,

If a seignior stole either an ox or a sheep or an ass or a pig or a boat, if it belonged to the church (or) if it belonged to the state, he shall make thirtyfold restitution; if it belonged to a private citizen, he shall make good tenfold. If the thief does not have sufficient to make restitution, he shall be put to death. (ANET).

I think that most of us are pleased when someone finds our material useful and even wants to share it with others. But stealing one’s property is another matter.

Our PHOTO PERMISSION page is liberal regarding private and classroom non-commercial use of our photos as long as credit is given.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you find it helpful in your own study and teaching.

The Other Bethlehem – Part 2

The unique buildings we now see in the little village of Beit Lehem HaGlilit (Galilean Bethlehem) were erected in the 1930s by a group of German nationals. A 2008 article by Lydia Aisenberg in the Jerusalem Post explains the origin and dispersion of the group. Aisenberg says that Beit Lehem HaGlilit and the nearby town of Waldheim (now Alonei Abba)…

…were built by the Templars [or Templers], a German-Christian sect and Nazi sympathizers who were rounded up by the British in 1939 and deported out of Mandate Palestine. Some chose to return to Germany, but the majority of the Templar community’s members emigrated to Melbourne, Australia.

The sect originated in southern Germany and carried a holy mission known as the Tempel Gemeinde, or Tempelgesellschaft. The sect’s name was later shortened to just “Templars,” often confused with another group, the Crusader-era Templer Knights.

The Templars arrived in the Ottoman controlled Holy Land in mid-l880 and began to build communities in different parts of the country: Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Sarona (Tel Aviv), as well as the two communities Beit Lehem HaGlilit and Waldheim in the Jezreel Valley.

After World War I, the British sent the Templars packing, but members of the sect were later allowed to return. They were banished for a second and final time when their Nazi connections were discovered in the late 1930s.

Templar youth from Palestine had been sent to attend “educational” youth activities and family visits in Germany, where they met with top Nazi officials. Photographs on display at the Beit Lehem HaGlilit home of the Fleischman family depict Templar sect members wearing swastika armbands and congregating in one of the large courtyards between the two-story buildings and outhouses.

The Templars of Beit Lehem HaGlilit (Galilean Bethlehem) and neighboring Waldheim (meaning “Forest Home” in German) were eventually rounded up by the British and sent to detention camps until their deportation, after which British Mandate soldiers and police were billeted in the Templars’ former homes.

When Jewish refugee families later moved into the Templar houses in Beit Lehem HaGlilit and Alonei Abba, they discovered hidden Templar belongings that attested the sect’s support of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. Items discovered in the community’s homes included Nazi party pennants, badges, banners, pamphlets and flags, in addition to photographs.

The stone house below, built by the Templars, served as a community house for the German nationals who lived in Galilean Bethlehem in the 1930s.

The Community House at Beit Lehem HaGilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Community House at Beit Lehem HaGilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo is of the Holocaust memorial erected by the residents of the town in 2007. Aisenberg explains the significance of the monument.

Its six large marble slabs lean forward, as if struggling to keep their pride and stay erect under the heaviest of loads.

Engraved on the memorial are the names of Jews snatched from their homes, transported and murdered by the Nazis. The names of the European towns and villages in which they had lived for generations are also etched deep in the stones, which seem to strain under the weight of memorializing so many thousands of murdered Jews and their annihilated communities.

The victims whose memories are honored on the six marble blocks, unveiled last year, are extended family members of today’s residents of the pleasant, upscale community of Beit Lehem HaGlilit.

A smaller block of marble at the side of the memorial boasts an inscription reading: “Erected by the community of Beit Lehem HaGlilit, second generation since the Holocaust, in recognition of our parents who survived the Holocaust, made aliya to Eretz Israel, participated in the founding of the state and amongst the founders of Beit Lehem HaGlilit, our home and in memory of our family members who were murdered by the Nazis in Europe during the years of 1939-1945.”

Monument to Holocaust Victims at Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Monument to Holocaust Victims at Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The complete article by Lydia Aisenberg may be read here.

After Part 1 was posted, Erik Wold left a comment and link that is pertinent at this point. The Dec. 26, 2014 issue of the London Mirror carried an article entitled “Is this secret Nazi enclave the REAL Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born?” here.

The authors of the article claim that the settlement in Galilean Bethlehem was an effort by Hitler and Himmler “to show that Jesus was born an Aryan, not a Jew.”

This is home to a secret Nazi sect waiting for the Second Coming in the heart of the Holy Land.

And behind it all is an anti-Semetic [Semitic] fantasy dreamed up by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler to show that Jesus was born an Aryan, not a Jew.

It may seem stranger than fiction but it all really happened in Bethlehem of Galilee, nine miles west of Nazareth.

The article also advances the theory of Dr Aviram Oshri that Jesus was born in Galilean Bethlehem, while acknowledging that the Israel Antiquities Authority “dismiss his claim as ‘worse than a joke.'”

As a result of something I read in the Mirror article I was led to Heidemarie Wawrzyn’s Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948. She says that the German colonies were used to aid Arab rebels. All of this came to a head about 1938 and resulted in the expulsion of the settlers.

I do not claim much knowledge about the Templars or the German settlement at Bethlehem, but I do find all of this intriguing as a prelude to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Added Note: See the comment below by Tom Powers. Here is a copy of the photo he mentions. Use Tom’s link for the original at the Library of Congress.

Photo taken on Coronation Day of King George VI in 1937. The Fast Hotel, on lower Jaffa Road, was owned by a Templer family.

Photo taken on the Coronation Day of King George VI in 1937. The Fast Hotel, on lower Jaffa Road, was owned by a Templer family. Notice both Nazi Flags and the Union Jack.

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

Jesus visited Jerusalem during Hanukkah

The Gospel of John records more visits to Jerusalem by Jesus than any other of the Gospels. John is the only one to record the visit during the Feast of Dedication.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,  and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. (John 10:22-23 ESV)

BDAG translates the Greek term egkainia as “festival of rededication.” The feast is also known as Hanukkah and the Feast of Lights.

What is he Feast of Dedication? This feast, observed on the 25th of Kislev (roughly our December), had its origin in the period between the testaments. The desecration of the temple by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes took place in 168 B.C. The climax of the Maccabean revolt was the removal of all evidences of pagan worship from the temple. An eight day feast of dedication was observed in 165 B.C., and continued to be observed annually by the Jews.

At Modin, a village north-west of Jerusalem, on the way from Jerusalem to Lod, the Syrians tried to force an old priest by the name of Mattathias to offer a pagan sacrifice. The priest refused but another Jew volunteered to offer the sacrifice. Mattathias killed his fellow Jew and the Syrian officer. As word spread, Mattathias became a national hero. He was of the family of Hasmon (or Asmoneus). Thus began the Hasmoneans.

The discovery of a burial cave at Modin thought to have been used by the Maccabees and/or their descendants was reported in November, 1995. There are Israeli scholars who argue that this is not the true grave of the Maccabees. An article in Haaretz says,

Amit Re’em, an archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority says all the evidence points to the fact that these graves are of Christians and pagans and that this burial site actually belongs to an ancient monastery.

Read the Haaretz article here.

Near Modin, signs point to the Maccabean Graves. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Near Modin, signs point to the Maccabean Graves. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Even though the Feast of Dedication was not a feast authorized by the Mosaic Law, it became part of the Jewish heritage, and Jesus came to Jerusalem at that time — at least once.

Jesus cleansed the Temple on two distinct occasions. The first time is recorded in John 2:14-22. The second account is recorded in Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; and Luke 19:45-48.

• This is a golden oldie from December 24, 2011.