Saturday, December 29, 2007

LMLK Handle Documentation Process

Silent night, holy night...

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

...Alleluia to our King!

This holiday week afforded me the opportunity to get caught up on the documentation of LMLK handles I acquired earlier this year (like the spectacular #62 shown above), but have been too busy to accomplish. It seems simple enough, considering that the IAA-licensed antiquities dealers already provide at least 1 photo; just copy an existing web page, substitute the new photo, increment the Corpus total, & voila! Presto! Magic! Done in about 5 minutes! Right?

Well, if anyone else were managing the LMLK Research website, that might be how they do it, but that's not how I chose to do it since there's only 1 LMLK Research website. (The closest parallel is The Amphoras Project, founded on the work of Virginia Grace, which I only became aware of in 2005 while researching material for LMLK vol. 2.) I developed the method & techniques I presently use back in 2003 during my major research expedition to 3 Pennsylvania museums, & it hasn't changed much, so now's as good as ever to publish it.

The black reticulated arm dominating this photo (the right wing of my L-shaped desk) is a $100 professional monopod that allows me to make minor adjustments to accommodate a wide variety of handle shapes/sizes. You would not believe what I used to go through. Prior to this, I kludged a monopod out of a computer-monitor paper-holder. In 2002 I never thought this research would amount to anything. And prior to that, I used a flatbed scanner. I never thought I'd see more than a handful of handles in my lifetime! God, was I ever wrong!

  1. Set up camera.

  2. With my new monopod, this process of setting up the camera will now only take about 15 minutes instead of an hour, including its connection to my computer.

  3. Turn on mysterious background music (Gasparyan, Thornton/Ramzy, Vangelis, etc.)!

  4. It's important to set the mood, & keep me mindful of the long-range importance of this work in the history of the world. I hope that doesn't sound conceited, because I see myself as only one little link in a long chain that began with the prophet Isaiah, through King Hezekiah, his potters, the seal-officers, the farmers, carters (ancient truckers sans CB radios, but can you just imagine if they did have them--Breaker one-nine, what's the ten-twenty of the nearest kosher choke-n-puke?), to the Chronicler, the faithful scribes over the centuries, to Charles Warren, & so on through all the ~200 people who have published material related to this subject, plus the many unnamed excavators along with fellow collectors & museum curators who have preserved these artifacts of God's overall story. Naturally, when I visited the American institutions that store LMLK handles, I worked without this accompaniment!

  5. Say a prayer.

  6. I thank God for giving me good eyesight to be able to see these historical treasures, & I thank God for allowing me to handle these handles, which may have been attached to jars containing offerings presented in God's temple. Of course, when working as a guest in a museum, this step is performed before arriving or immediately upon leaving.

  7. Set up handle for impression photos (5 minutes).

  8. The vast majority of handles are fragmented, & are easy to set on a cushion; larger/complete handles are more complicated. But in either case, here are 2 important points:

    • Position the lens as close to the object as possible for the best magnification, but allow enough room for maneuvering a light source around it; about 10" is typical.

    • Adjust the handle so its impression plane is parallel to the lens to eliminate as much distortion as possible; it's impossible to eliminate distortion for most impressions due the handle's curvature, & the stamper's tendency to stab at least one of its edges into the clay.

  9. Lights out; light on.

  10. To obtain the best shadows, I only photograph in the dark so I can control the angle of the light from a handheld source; an untangled extension cord is very helpful in maneuvering.

  11. Test shot.

  12. Kick-start the auto-focus, & select a computer folder to store the images in. Prior to my new camera this summer, I used to store all the images to its memory card, then transfer the files later. Now I can immediately preview them on the big screen. The old camera was 2 Megapixels; this new one's 10Mp. The best photos I could make with the old one were 1600x1200 pixels (400kb file size); this new one makes 3648x2736 (~4Mb).

  13. Shoot the seal (with apologies to animal-rights activists for the pun; 5 minutes).

  14. I take 8 shots using 8 lighting angles (45 degrees apart), & later label these files with suffixes according to cardinal points (N, NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, NE; when time is not an issue here at home, but only 2-4 shots at museums where my time was extremely limited). I used to have to shift the impression's location slightly for each shot because of the reaction by the camera's autofocus system to the varying light. This is not a big deal because the purpose of these shots is to capture the seal impression details--the color & texture of the handle are irrelevant. But with my new camera, which has better electronics & firmware, I've found that I don't need to move the handle to get decent shots; this will allow me to make animated files at some point (time permitting). But to illustrate the difference, here are 2 photos I took tonight of a Hellenistic handle's monogram seal (notice that the top one is flooded--this is the NE angle; the bottom one from the adjacent E angle has correct colors):

    These 2 shots demonstrate the huge difference these 45-degree shifts can make in bringing out impression features--notice that the first one (NW) brings out fingerprint grooves in the middle where the scarab's body would've been, were the handle not concave here; yet in the 2nd photo from an adjacent angle (N), they completely disappear(!!!):

  15. Shoot the handle (10-30 minutes).

  16. The amount of time this takes varies based on the shape/size of the handle (again, due to limited time at museums, I usually only took 2-4 basic shots of each handle, usually with no time to refine them). Small fragments that only need 4 shots don't require much special positioning--they set in the same basic position as for their seal shots. Large fragments that require top, bottom, side, left, right, & jar wheel-ring shots can take half an hour because of custom holders I build up from (clean) socks & black cloths. Unlike the previous step, here it's important to capture the color & texture of the handle as best as possible.

  17. Check & rename the files (15-30 minutes).

  18. I take anywhere from 12 to 16 photos of each handle, & in some circumstances even more if it has an unusual/rare feature. The camera dumps them out with generic serialized filenames, & I have to add its main name plus descriptive suffixes. During this procedure, I'll open each one to do a cursory check of its condition. With the old camera, I occasionally had to re-setup the handle & re-shoot it; with the new camera, as mentioned earlier, I check each shot as it's taken.

  19. Backup the files.

  20. This almost goes without saying, but at the end of each day, it's critical to copy the raw files to another device.

  21. Analyze & measure the handle (15-30 minutes).

  22. To avoid handling the handle in the future, I make a record of these parameters:

    • Seal orientation.

    • Ware color(s).

    • Other marks (scrutinize the handle for incisions, fingerprints, or any anomalies).

    • Left/right lengths (as viewed from the same isometric angle in the photos).

    • Maximum jar-side length (an old-fashioned wooden inch-ruler is visible in the studio photo above).

    • Handle width/thickness (at its smallest point near center of the loop where the break usually occurs)

    • Hi/lo joint circumferences (measured with the white wire in the studio photo to approximate the amount of clay used to attach the handle to the jar, which is then straightened over the ruler)

    • Loop circumference (again, at its smallest point near center of the loop where the break usually occurs)

    • Loop opening (only available for complete handles; the minimum height/width inside using the gray caliper, also visible in the studio photo)

    • Joint to seal (2 caliper measurements--1 from the approximate connection of the jar wall to the seal center, & another from the wall to the closest seal border; in some cases, I need to place my clear plastic template over the impression to estimate where these spots should be if they don't exist)

  23. Choose the best Seal photo. (5-15 minutes)

  24. Out of the 8 shots with alternate lighting, determine which single photo to publish that gives researchers the best bang for their time-buck. Out of all the steps in the process, this is usually the most fun!

  25. Crop the Seal & reduce the Type photos (5 minutes).

  26. To help researchers do apple-to-apple comparisons, I resize all the seal photos to the same relative dimensions based on enlarged seal-design templates I place over my computer screen. The large photo on the handle's individual page has a maximum dimension of 480 pixels, & shows only the seal impression. Then for the seal-group pages, this same photo is reduced to a minimum dimension of 200 pixels & given a scientific classification name used later when doing statistical analyses. In some cases for unusual multi-stamped impressions, I do an extra step to estimate the correct reduction even though I include a larger minimum dimension to show the extra stamp. Out of all the steps in the process, this is the one that adds most value to the website, since it helps researchers identify partial stamps by comparing similar specimens. As the database has built up over the years, it's now much easier at a glance to distinguish an H2D from an H2U even if not a single trace of the "HBRN" inscription remains--the icon & "LMLK" inscriptions are extremely distinct.

  27. Crop the other handle shots (5-10 minutes).

  28. This step takes a bit longer than the Seal photos since I resize the photos to match the measured dimensions; so even if I were to lose all my notes on the measurements, or even if the handles get lost or destroyed some day, I'd be able to cull the information from the photos (given that the computer screen is equivalent; a 16" diagonal at 1024x768; a standard I chose based on the most popular configurations in 2002 when I began this project).

  29. Move the cropped files & build a web page.

  30. This part is relatively easy once a template for the handle's owner is made; the photo files are deposited in the "dets" (Details) folder & the "imps" (Impressions) folders.

  31. Integrate links (5 minutes).

  32. This part's a little more complicated since I have to add some text for the handle owner's page & the seal-group page, plus the Updates page announcing its addition.

  33. Update the Corpus totals.

  34. This process is fairly fast nowadays, but required some development work over the years. I have several custom programs I created to count the file attributes for Inscriptions, Icons, Seal Designs, Orientation, Ware, & Incisions--this is where my Type-file naming conventions pay off bigtime! I also have a master database in an Excel worksheet to do additional calculations based on the provenanced & unprovenanced holdings.

  35. Publish to the web.

  36. It only takes a few minutes to break through all of my security settings, upload the files, then close the figurative security gates.

  37. Brag.

Actually, an additional step if I had time to spare, would be to create an overlay of the seal design on each main seal photo as I did for the S4L that Aren Maeir found earlier this year at Safi/Gath (I also did this for one of the still-unpublished Ramat Rahel handles found by Oded Lipschits).

So overall, I spend over 1 hour documenting each handle, sometimes 2 hours each (4 of the 9 done this week required special processing). Including this past week, I've now photographed 373 handles (or in the case of Haverford's collection, plaster casts of just the stamps).

The handles I documented this week brought the total number of pages on the Research site to 675. Since the handle-photo pages are the easiest & least time-consuming (since they don't require much thought or reading time), it would be equally fair to estimate the building of each page at a 2-hour minimum (some of them took over a week).

Using California's minimum wage of $6.75 since 2002 (which nobody in CA actually is paid; even burger flippers typically make a little more, & illegal immigrants, drug dealers, & panhandling bums make much more since they don't have to pay taxes) for 2 hours each, that amounts to almost $10,000 worth of work spread out over a 6-year period. (Did you notice the coincidence between 675 pages & $6.75? And some scholars say David & Solomon could not possibly have reigned for 40 years each! Ha! [And notice that the ANE-2 message I referenced was posted on 7-7-07.])

Not much in terms of dollars & cents (even if I were to use my actual engineering payrate), but I get to listen to really cool music while doing it, so it makes it worthwhile!

That's certainly a luxury Charles Warren never had when he published the first LMLK handle!

Song of the week: "Sayat Nova" by Djivan Gasparyan (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 27-second sample; 360kb; note that Sayat-Nova, an 18th-century poet/musician, was known as the "King of Songs").
G.M. Grena

Sunday, December 23, 2007

ASOR & SBL Stats & Awards

Here's a summary highlights I experienced at the San Diego conferences in November:

Number of ASOR & SBL lectures scheduled:
  • 52 & 673

Number of ASOR & SBL lectures I attended in their entirety:
  • 14 & 14

Number of ASOR & SBL lectures I attended portions of:
  • 8 & 5

Percentage of available ASOR & SBL lectures I attended (fractional lectures counted as 0.5 each):
  • 35% & 2%

Prices I paid for ASOR & SBL lectures:
  • $125 (1 day) & $135 (3 days)

Gas + parking expenditures for ASOR & SBL:
  • $53 ($33+$20) & $165 ($99+$66)

Prices-I-ended-up-paying for each ASOR & SBL lecture (fractional lectures counted as 0.5 each):
  • $10 ($178/18) & $18 ($300/16.5)

Intangible value received for attending ASOR & SBL lectures:
  • Priceless!

Autographs I Obtained:

  • Anson Rainey

  • Aren Maeir

  • Bruce Zuckerman

  • David Noel Freedman

  • Hershel Shanks

  • Jodi Magness

  • Lester Grabbe

  • Marilyn Lundberg

  • Nili Fox

  • P. Kyle McCarter

  • Robert Deutsch

  • Ron Tappy

  • Shlomo Bunimovitz

  • Steven Feldman

  • Zvi Lederman

Other Friendly Scholars I Met (*=LMLK VIPs whose autographs I already had):

  • Ann Killebrew

  • Beth Alpert Nakhai

  • Carolina Aznar

  • David Vanderhooft

  • Jane Cahill (*)

  • Jim Davila

  • Jonathan Lawrence

  • Lisbeth Fried

  • Oded Borowski (*)

  • Oded Lipschits

  • Robin DeWitt Knauth

  • Steven Collins

  • William Schniedewind

  • Yosef Garfinkel (*)

Other Scholars I Saw But Didn't Have an Opportunity to Speak with:

  • Chris Heard

  • James Charlesworth

  • Jeff Zorn

  • John Hobbins

  • Larry Stager

  • William Dever

  • Yuval Goren

Scholars I Hoped Might Be There, But Weren't (or if they were there, our paths never crossed):

  • Alan Millard

  • Andre Lemaire

  • David Ussishkin

  • Eilat Mazar

  • Ephraim Stern

  • Frank Moore Cross, Jr.

  • Melody Knowles

Scholars Who Were There That I Wanted to Meet, But Our Paths Never Crossed:

  • Andy Vaughn

  • Bryant Wood

  • Jeff Chadwick

  • Joe Cathey

  • Larry Herr

  • Ruth Ohm

  • Todd Bolen

[Note: I'm abbreviating my blog reports as "A" for ASOR or "S" for SBL in brackets below; so "A5" means "ASOR p. 5".]

Best "Biblical Archeology" Lecture:
  • "Come, Let Us Meet Face to Face" by Zvi Lederman [A5]

Best Paper Toss:
  • Zvi Lederman, into the lap of Hershel Shanks [A5]

People Who Believe ASOR & SBL Should Record Conference Lectures & Sell Them to Raise Funds:
  • G.M. Grena [A3]

People Who Had Thought I Was Older Before Meeting Me:
  • Hershel Shanks [A1]

  • Steven Feldman [A13]

People Who Disagree with Lenny Wolfe's "Lame Bet" Argument Against Forged Seals:
  • Robert Deutsch [A8]

  • G.M. Grena [A8]

People Not Afraid to Be Seen in Public with Robert Deutsch:
  • G.M. Grena [A1]

Most Interesting Disputes
  • P.M. Daviau vs. Beth Alpert Nakhai [A2]

  • Larry Stager vs. Aren Maeir [A9]

  • P. Kyle McCarter vs. Christopher Rollston [A16]

  • Aren Maeir vs. all the Zayit-session lecturers! [A16]

Scholars Who Read "David" in the Mesha Stela:
  • Anson Rainey [S11]

  • Chang-Ho Ji [A2]

Scholars Who Write For, But Don't Read, BAR Magazine:
  • William Dever [A2]

Scholars Who Think the American Public Is Dreadfully Ignorant (unlike the public in, say, Copenhagen or Timbuktu):
  • William Dever [A5]

Scholars Accused of Not Knowing a Canaanite Dialect If It Were to Bite Them:
  • William Dever [S11]

Scholars Who Don't Believe Any Ancient Records of Horse Quantities:
  • Anson Rainey [A3]

Scholars Not Proud of Most Tel Aviv University Excavation Reports:
  • Anson Rainey [A5]

Scholars Who Believe "Everyone Knew Everyone" in Iron-Age Israel:
  • Deborah Cantrell [A3]

Most Controversial Lecture:
  • "Khirbet Kiafa: Biblical Azekah?" by Saar Ganor & Yosef Garfinkel [A6]

Best Opportunity Given to Excavate a Monumental Iron-Age Gate:
  • Yosef Garfinkel [A6]

Most Passionate Objection to a Lecture:
  • Shlomo Bunimovitz, in response to "Khirbet Kiafa: Biblical Azekah?" [A6]

Harshest Criticism Delivered in a Lecture:
  • Jodi Magness, to Itzhak Magen & Yuval Peleg's published interpretation of Qumran [S3]

Most Embarrassed Scholar:
  • Jodi Magness (after being asked by me for an autograph) [S3]

Best Compliment Given to a Lecturer:
  • Anson Rainey to Uzi Leibner--"an awesome presentation" [A3]

Best Use of a Valley-Girl Adjective by a Scholar:

Lecturer Who Used "Not" the Most in the Shortest Span:
  • Christopher Rollston (9x in < 2 minutes) [A14]

Funniest Comment During a Lecture:
  • Seth Sanders reacting to Ron Tappy's 5-minute-warning card [A15]

Unintentionally Funniest Moment During a Lecture:
  • P. Kyle McCarter losing his place after mentioning "Hebrew national" (along with an intentionally funny recovery!) [A16]

Weakest Use of "Millions of Years":
  • P. Kyle McCarter [A16]

People Who Know Radiometric Analyses Count Atoms, Not Years:
  • Elisabetta Boaretto [A3]

  • G.M. Grena [A3]

Best San Diego Museum Exhibit Related to the Bible:

Dumbest Bible-Related Museum-Exhibit Admission Policy in San Diego:

Most Uncomfortable Conference Chairs in San Diego:

Best Hyperbole during the Conferences:
  • Bruce Zuckerman, "elephant in the living room" (i.e., non-abecedary inscriptions on the Zayit Stone) [S5]

Worst Acting Performance:
  • Nili Fox, "ouch" (stoic reaction to surgical removal of tattoos) [S7]

Most Annoying Remarks During a Lecture:
  • Nili Fox (2; "literary nature" of Genesis, & "Deutero-Isaiah") [S7]

Lecture with the Most Attractive Ladies:
  • "Daniel: Sage, Seer... and Prophet?" by Lester Grabbe (3--I had plenty of time to "see" them while waiting to get his autograph) [S8]

Most Unusual Sentence in a Lecture:
  • "She's a really fine man!" by David Stein [S9]

Most Surprisingly Friendly VIP:
  • Niels Peter Lemche (a really fine man) [S2]

Overall Nicest Person at the Conferences (no big surprise):
  • Robin DeWitt Knauth [A13 & S10]

Scholar Who Used the Most English Words I Was Unfamiliar with:
  • Anson Rainey (4: "preterite", "lexeme", "prothetic", & "syntagma") [S11]

Lecture with Best LMLK Content:
  • "Storage Jar Transportation and Exchange Types in the Iron Age II Southern Levant" by Carolina Aznar [A7]

Total # of Unsolicited/Surprising Compliments I Received on My LMLK Research:
  • 4 (Collins, DeWitt Knauth, Lipschits, Noel Freedman)

Things I Regret the Most (in order of occurrence):
  • Not skipping out of part of the ASOR Zayit session to hear Steven Collins lecture on Tall el-Hammam

  • Not reviewing my unpublished 2004 analysis of King Hezekiah's bullae before meeting Robert Deutsch

  • Not scheduling an appointment to meet Andy Vaughn

  • Not taking the time to stop by the AiG resources-booth (at ETS) while wearing one of my Creation Museum shirts

  • Not inviting Jodi Magness to dinner (I had already embarrassed her once; why not shoot for 2?)

  • Not being brave enough to ask James Charlesworth if he's James Charlesworth

  • Not bringing a granola bar to Anson Rainey's lecture

Thanks to these scholars for posting comments during this blog series:
  • Andrew Compton [S11]

  • Kevin P. Edgecomb [S9]

  • Owen Chesnut [A6]

  • Peter van der Veen [A6]

  • Scott Needham [S11]

Song of the week: "Friends With You" by John Denver (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 24-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena

Monday, December 17, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 12)

For the grand finale of the entire conference, I journeyed back to the Marriott (the land of modern torture devices disguised as chairs) for the "First Esdras Consultation" session, which had also begun at 1:00 while I was at Anson Rainey's lecture. On the way over, I noticed the name tag of Leen Ritmeyer on someone I passed by on the sidewalk, but the person wearing it didn't resemble the person of Temple-Mount architecture fame I had pictured in my mind (this was a much younger looking guy), though I've never met him before. If it wasn't him, that would indeed be a heck of a coincidence to see someone with that unusual/distinctive name at a Biblical conference!

Then again, maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, or maybe I was just daydreaming. These several days had been very emotional, & now soon it was going to end, & just be history.

It was frustrating to have sacrificed the 25-minute opening by David Noel Freedman (an ordained Presbyterian minister, currently the Endowed Chair in Hebrew Biblical Studies at the University of California San Diego, & general editor of the Anchor Bible series), who presided over the session, but I figured I might be able to hear some tidbit-gems from him in between the remaining speakers. As it turns out, co-lecturer Lisbeth Fried (pronounced "Freed" just like "Freedman" coincidentally) was doing the presiding (i.e., introducing & timing the speakers).

To my surprise/shock, the room turned out to be another one of those 1-door mini-rooms that only held no more than 50 people--I had totally expected it to be a much larger venue based on Dr. Freedman's prominent presence. Even more surprising was the fact that the room was not even full--there were almost a dozen empty seats, & unfortunately they were all up front. (Note--Anson Rainey's lecture was in the same size of room, & he had an overflow crowd with people sitting on the floor in the back!) So when I entered the quiet room, as with the National Association of Professors of Hebrew, I immediately went to the first open seat I saw in the 2nd row (of about 5 rows).

Because of the podium's position blocking my view, all I could see of Dr. Freedman were his hands. At one point, he attempted to pop open a soda can on the table, but wasn't able to due to his being about 85 years of age, & during an interlude between speakers, someone (who I won't name to preserve their eternal blessing) kindly opened it & poured it for him.

Lester Grabbe was just concluding his presentation when I arrived at 1:50 (it was his same persona on another quest), then came Tessa Rajak (first time I ever heard someone with a heavy British accent speaking Greek), followed by James VanderKam.

Dr. VanderKam's a fairly well-known scholar (if you have a couple of hours to blow, try reading his vitae all the way through!), & I was surprised that there were only 19 people in attendance at this point!

Something else that struck me as odd throughout all 3 SBL days was that everytime I ventured outside of a lecture room, there were always people lounging. Now granted, these were hotels, & I'd expect that, but most of the people I saw had conference name tags on; & instead of sitting in on whatever session happened to be nearby, I was just surprised that so many were just sitting, chatting, sipping drinks like it was a casual social party. I even saw a few people snoozing. I recall seeing 1 young lady the first day at the CC just sitting off to the side of the long aisle on the east side of the building, with a backpack & pile of books near her, just dozing off.

Anyway, my point is that all the time I was there, I was either in a session, or traveling as briskly as possible to another one. It's hard for me to imagine thousands of Biblical scholars being in the vicinity of a lecture with Fried, VanderKam, & Freedman, & only seeing 19 people in there at one point! Mind boggling!

David Carr, who had lectured at the ASOR Zayit session, was in attendance, & asked a long series of questions for Dr. VanderKam. Since 1Esdras is not my field of interest, I didn't take any detailed notes as these papers were presented. Liz Fried was the final presenter, & she gave us an interesting handout: a 3-columned table comparing ANE themes with Ezra & 1st Esdras. The most interesting point I gleaned from her was that apocryphal 1Esdras conforms to Haggai & Zechariah better than canonical Ezra.

Probably the strangest thing I witnessed at any point in the entire conference happened while Tessa Rajak was speaking. Two of the hotel staff came into this little room, walked right up to the podium where she was standing & speaking, & began laying a cord & taping it down to the floor, & connected it to a microphone on the podium. Then they brought in a large loudspeaker on a stand, set it up right next to her (which was right in front of me as I was in the 2nd row, & the 1st row was empty--she being about 6 or 7 feet away from me). And they did this like it was an ordinary routine, like as if they were invisible & nobody noticed!

After connecting the cable, they turned it on, & Prof. Rajak--completely annoyed by their activity, told them in her proper British voice, "You can turn it off please, I don't need it" (or something to that effect)!

I didn't realize it at the time, but back when the session began, someone apparently had requested a microphone for Dr. Freedman so he wouldn't have to strain his voice. I had begun to think that they were setting up for some other event after this session was over. It's just weird that the workers didn't excuse themselves & explain what they were doing when they entered the room.

Dr. Fried concluded at 3:20, & I was thrilled to discover that I was going to get to hear Dr. Freedman speak after all! During his opening presentation, he had apparently expressed hope that one or more of the topics addressed in this session--some of them proposing contradictory solutions--would resolve some problems pertaining to the study of 1Esdras. To put his remarks in context, here are the titles of the 5 papers given:

"The Rendering of 2 Chronicles 35-36 in 1st Esdras" by Ralph W. Klein

"The Origins of 1 Esdras: Redivivus Noch Einmal" by Lester L. Grabbe

"1 Esdras in the Hands of Josephus" by Tessa Rajak

"Literary Questions Between Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 Esdras" by James C. VanderKam

"Why the Story of the Three Youths in 1st Esdras?" by Lisbeth S. Fried

Dr. Freedman, using the microphone while remaining seated at the table where I still could not see him (it would've been inappropriate for me to get up & reposition myself right in front of him after he began speaking, & until he started speaking, I didn't know he was going to speak), said (& these are fragmentary quotes, writing as rapidly as I could, but I think I got most of it):

"I find each speaker convincing, which leaves the problem where it was before! ... I have this great belief something will come up that will help solve the problem. ... [We need] a new edition of 1Esdras to find out what 1Esdras is--that should help in resolving other issues. ... I find each speaker persuasive, but none totally convincing. ... My own appraisal is that Ezra & Nehemiah are the product of a collaboration ... a very odd couple! ... Ezra, a scribe, a professional ... Nehemiah, a governor, an authority ... [Now consider the KJV itself.] ... What made it authorized? ... King James put up the money, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes [was the] head of the committee who did all the work. ... Who got the credit?"

Earlier, I mentioned his frail physical condition not to embarrass him in any way, but to let readers see it contrasted with his mind, which is still exceptionally brilliant! In 5 minutes, he communicated a more effective & profound take-home message than all 5 other scholars combined (not to mention other respectable scholars such as David Carr who participated in the Q&As; & I obviously mean no disrespect to them, as they provided the intellectual fodder for Dr. Freedman to work with).

(For another interesting report of Dr. Freedman's still-brilliant mind, I'd encourage everyone to read Todd Bolen's account, which had transpired a few days earlier than mine.)

I had brought along a copy of "William Foxwell Albright: A Twentieth-Century Genius", which Dr. Freedman co-authored with Leona Glidden Running in 1975, hoping to get it signed. This particular copy is from the personal library of Stephen Mann, former dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology who co-authored the Anchor Bible commentary volume on Matthew's Gospel with Albright (& later authored the one for Mark). As I normally do, I waited for a minute or so because I figured other people would be swamping Dr. Freedman with questions & comments. Again to my shock, nobody did! So I nervously approached him, & asked him if he'd sign it.

Yet again to my shock (sorry for the repetition, but it's true), he was very happy when I showed it to him (like as if I were re-introducing him to an old friend; cf. Grabbe's reaction the previous evening), & gladly signed it. He wrote very carefully, & even took the time to write the date! I had acquired the book along with 2 letters sent by Dr. Freedman to Dr. Mann in '75 & '76 regarding his Mark commentary, & he had signed them simply "Noel", the name his colleagues use, including the ones here at this session. The autograph he signed for me was "David N. Freedman", so it's nice to have both versions!

I thanked him very much, & was prepared to just turn & go, but with yet another shock, he asked me where I was from.

Stupid me, I said, "Up near Los Angeles." And he said something like, "No, which school?" My heart sank in humility. Here I was taking this gentleman's time, & I had lost complete sense of whether anyone else was now wanting to speak with him, & yet here he was kind enough to take this interest in me & make such an inquiry.

I told him, "I'm not really with any school, I study the Judean jar handles with royal seal impressions..." He said, "Ah!" in acknowledgement, being familiar with them of course. "...just as a hobby because they're so interesting--I do it independently."

The final shock came now when he said, "Well good for you!"

That just totally blew me away! That, dear readers, is a scholar. (It's irrelevant whether I deserved such attention, which I didn't.) I said, "Thank you so much for all of your contributions, sir!", shook his hand, & as I turned to go (like the Space Shuttle re-entering Earth's atmosphere) I again became aware of my surroundings & saw Dr. Fried looking on, standing next to him. I had written to her offline once last year in response to something she posted on ANE-2. I greeted her & thanked her for her presentation, then left ... still floating on a cloud.

Then again, maybe I was just daydreaming.

G.M. Grena

P.S. A day after I posted this, I was informed that Leen Ritmeyer was indeed in the vicinity (at the NEAS conference; not that I never daydream, of course).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 11)

I arrived at the Grand Hyatt around 12:50 hoping to catch Prof. Anson Rainey before the beginning of his 1:00 session, "Ugaritic Studies and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy".

I had forgotten to mention that at the end of the ASOR day (probably because I was focusing so intensely on the Zayit inscriptions), I met him briefly as I was leaving. He signed his landmark BASOR 245 article for me, "Wine from the Royal Vineyards" (Winter 1982). When I first read this article, it made a big impression (pun intended) on me as to the scope of the problem scholars have in interpreting the LMLK phenomenon, particularly pertaining to the association of the 4 words with cities/towns vs. districts/regions:

"Therefore we would suggest that the Socoh in the southern Hill Country is meant. ... Thus we are departing from Aharoni's view that the four place names represent a reorganization of the Judean administrative districts by Hezekiah during his preparations for Sennacherib's attack." (p. 59; Lv1 p. 246)

I also like people who are not shy about disagreeing with Nadav Na'aman. Regarding his hypothesis that Sargon conquered the Negeb:

"This suggestion is indefensible and must be flatly rejected on several counts. ... it does not make sense..." (p. 60; Lv1 p. 247)

I regard Prof. Rainey as one of the most important LMLK researchers for both this landmark article, & also the fact that he discovered the first publicized LMLK pithos handle (though several others were found decades earlier at Mizpah, Lachish, & Gibeon they were not recognized as distinct forms of pottery):

"[O]ne such impression came to light at Beersheba, found by the present writer during the first season while excavating a chalk floor that subsequently turned out to be a chamber in the city gate of Str. II. It was not on a standard type wine jar, the Lachish Type 484, but rather on a giant pithos." (p. 60; Lv1 p. 247)

So you can imagine how cool it was for me to be able to hang out with him for 10 minutes or so as he was finishing his lunch (2 hotdogs)! I regret not bringing along some sort of snack--a granola bar or anything--so that I'd be able to say I actually had lunch with him! Nonetheless, I brought along another rare book for him to sign--"Beer-Sheba I", mostly written by Yohanan Aharoni, but also containing chapters by fellow excavators including Prof. Rainey ("The Cuneiform Inscription on a Votive Cylinder from Beer-sheba"). This particular copy was originally autographed by Prof. Aharoni for Mrs. Joy Ungerleider, the longtime curator & director of The Jewish Museum in New York, who established The Dorot Foundation in 1972. I had mentioned this to Prof. Rainey at ASOR, & told him I'd bring it to SBL; he knew who she was.

He began his lecture, "Redefining Ancient Hebrew" (per SBL; "Redefining Hebrew--A Transjordanian Language" per his handout), with the humorous observation, "In the 21st century, we don't solve problems, we deal with issues." He distributed an excellent 9-page handout, & followed it rather closely throughout his presentation (but didn't read it; a sure sign of a genuinely knowledgeable scholar), beginning with a reference to Dr. William Dever. I'm not going to reproduce it here in its entirety because it's full of technical details & complicated diacritical marks (the chances of me making typos are high), but I will copy portions of it, beginning with the first paragraph since it's classic Rainey (a scholar with a confident attitude):

"I. Background. In his popular essay Dever (2003, also 1995) discussed a series of cultural traits in the Early Iron Age hill country settlements that definitely showed a discontinuity with the situation in the preceding Late Bronze Age. However, he was convinced because of his erroneous view of the ceramic evidence (cf. Rainey 2007:49-52) that the occupants of the many newly established small sites had originated in the previous Canaanite society on the coastal plains and valleys. One of his final arguments pertained to the Hebrew language:"

And here in his handout, he quotes Dever:

"...since the birth of modern linguistics it has been clear that Hebrew is a Canaanite dialect (Dever 2003:168)."

Returning to his spoken lecture, Prof. Rainey stated unambiguously, "Bill wouldn't know a Canaanite dialect if it bit him!"

Here's the abstract, followed by the other headings given in the paper:

"Conventional wisdom has classified Hebrew as a 'Canaanite dialect.' This concept must be challenged in the light of several differences between Hebrew and Phoenician (the Canaanite language par excellance [sic]) and similarities to Transjordanian languages such as Moabite and Old South Aramaic (Deir Alla, Tel Dan, Zakkur). The basic features that define ancient Hebrew as a Transjordanian language are: consonantal structure, narrative prefix preterite, the verb 'to be,' the verb 'to do, make,' the relatie [sic] pronoun and other features. The redefinition of Hebrew as a Transjordanian language has a direct bearing on the ethnic and cultural definition of the newly arrived settlers in the hilly areas of the southern Levant in the twelfth-eleventh centuries BCE."

II. Consonantal Phonemes

III. Some Lexemes

1. The verb "to be."

2. The verbs "to do, make."

3. The terms for "gold."

4. The relative pronoun ASR--Hebrew and Moabite
(note--in his paper, ASR was written in modern Hebrew right to left as "RSA")

5. Governor, Chief Administrator.

IV. The Narrative Preterit

In section II, he showed the 22 consonantal signs of the Phoenician alphabet, & mentioned the Izbet Sarta & Tel Zayit inscriptions as examples of "students trying to practice the alphabet". He said, "Phoenicians called themselves Canaanites", & the Hebrew "hillbillies from the desert ... borrowed" this Phoenician/Canaanite alphabet "because of its prestige" even though there were "not enough letters" in it; they "borrowed an alphabet that did not fit their language". It also did not have enough letters for Aramaic, whose speakers had "apparently" 29 consonantal phonemes.

Section III began with the lament that Garr (1985) did not consider lexical innovations in his classification of the dialect geography of the Levant.

III.1 quoted Genesis 1:3 (Amazing coincidence!) in Hebrew, Daniel 6:11 in Aramaic, & line 12a from the Moabite Mesha inscription, noting that "Andre Lemaire has also found a third person feminine singular form" therein. His major point in this section was, "The personal name of Israel's Deity, *Yahweh, was a derived imperfect verb form, specifically a causative (Albright 1924:374) from that very non-Canaanite verb!" He pronounced the Tetragrammaton verb as "Yeev-yay".

III.2 quoted Lachish Letter 4:2-3 in Hebrew, & line 26 from the Mesha. At some point in this section, he mentioned that in the days of Hezekiah there were "lots of diplomats coming & going". Then he did a lengthy look at the POL root throughout the Bible, noting that only one of the verbal forms appears in the narrative preterit (Isaiah 44:12); it never occurs in historical prose books or in epigraphic Hebrew. "POL is the standard verbal root for Phoenician & Punic (Hoftijzer & Jongeling 1995: II, 924-927). A classic example is the opening passage of the Kilamuwa inscription." Then he showed its forms in lines 2 & 5 of the Deir 'Alla inscription.

III.3 compared "gold" in Hebrew (ZEB) with its Aramaic cognate (DEB), as well as the Arabic "dahab", noting the Silwan funerary inscription. The Phoenician version, "hrs" (vocalized as "harus"), is attested 6 times in the Hebrew Bible (Zechariah 9:3, Psalms 68:14, & Proverbs 3:4, 8:10,19, 16:16; "HRU$" according to my system I use with the LMLK Personals). The Ugaritic cognate is similar to the Phoenician, "though there is evidence that the Ugaritians may have adopted the Akkadian form hurasu (del Olmo Lete, G. and Sanmartin, J. 2005:I, 406)." He also looked at its form in Linear B (ku-ru-so), noting that the later Greek form "demonstrates that the form was borrowed from a West Semitic language, most likely Ugaritic". He terminated this section with quotes from ancient Ugaritic & Phoenician texts.

III.4 is a relatively short section (1 paragraph) stating that another significant link between Hebrew & Moabite is the use of ASR, which is in no way related to Phoenician AS. The latter is simply the S with prothetic Alef. The relative ASR is the construct of an archaic noun meaning either "place" or "pace". It did not develop from the use of the construct for "wherever" in the Amarna letters (Rainey 1996; contra Garbini 1960:105). Note that Prof. Rainey is the only living scholar who has personally read all the Amarna texts in London, Berlin, Paris, Brussels, New York, Chicago, & Cairo!

I think this is the first time in my life I've been exposed to the word, "prothetic" (the adjective form of "prothesis"; a noun I've never heard of either)! I looked it up in the dictionary, but I'm still not sure of the difference between this & a "prefix"; there seems to be some overlap in meaning. More importantly, how do these grammarians know that AS is an S with an A added to the front of it rather than an A with an S added to the end of it?

III.5 examines the Phoenician term, "SKN", a root that means "to care for, to attend to", which "has no connection with Semitic SKN." Then he gives examples of it in Ugaritic & Hebrew (Job 22:21), then 2 glosses in the Amarna letters, & also Old Aramaic & Phoenician. This latter term appears once in Hebrew being used sarcastically in Isaiah 22:15.

The remaining 3+ pages contain section IV, which begins with the statement, "The Amarna letters from Canaan still employed the prefix preterit (Rainey 1971; 1996:2, 222-226; acknowledged by Moran 1975), they seldom use it in a string of clauses connected by the conjunction in order to express a sequence of actions." Then he gives some EA examples, & shows it as commonplace in ancient Hebrew such as Genesis 8:6-9 & Lachish Letter #4. According to Rainey, "Moabite had this syntagma in common with Hebrew", & he quotes Mesha lines 10-14.

(Again, I had never heard "syntagma" before.) Interestingly, this is the section of Mesha used by Chang-Ho Ji back at the ASOR conference, so I'll quote his version here with his emphases (Rainey 2001:294, 296, 300-5):

The man of Gad had dwelt in 'Atarot (Ataroth) from of old and the king of Israel built 'Atarot (Ataroth) for him. But I fought against the city and I took it and I slew all the people, [but] the city became(!) the property of Chemosh and of Moab and I captured from there its Davidic altar hearth and I dragged it before Chemosh in Kerioth, and I settled in it men of Sharon and m[en] of Maharoth.

Then he quotes the Zakkur Inscription 11-15 (Rainey 2003b:404; Rainey & Notley 2006:220-1). He provides a line-by-line transliteration with this English translation (I'm omitting his additional bracketed transliterations):

So I raised my hands to Ba'l-samayin & Ba'l-samayin answered me & Ba'l-samayin [spoke] to me by means of seers & by means of prophets [&] Ba'l-samayin [said to me] "Do not fear because it is I who made [you king & I (myself) will st]and with you & I (myself) will deliver you from all [these kings who] have thrown up against you a seige [sic] & [Ba'l-samayin] said to [me...].

Then Deir 'Alla lines 1-2 (again, with his emphases):

And the gods came to him by night, & he saw a visio]n as an oracle of 'El. Then they said to [Bil'a]m son of Be'or...

I don't know where the preceding bracket is for the closing one in "visio]n", so maybe that's a typo; it does not appear in his Hebrew version.

His paper concluded with, "The prefix preterit with & without the sequential conjunction (Rainey 2003:405) in the Tel Dan inscription" (lines 3-10; again, omitting his line-by-line & bracketed transliterations):

"and my father passed away; he went to [his ancestors.] And the king of I[s]rael entered formerly into the land of my father; [but] Hadad made me myself king, & Hadad went before me; [and] I departed from [the] seven [...] of my kingdom; & I slew seve[nty ki]ngs, who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]riots & thousands of horsemen. [And then they killed Jo]ram, son of [Ahab,] king of Israel, & [they] killed [Ahazi]yahu, son of [Joram, kin-]g of the house of David; & I set [their land to ruins?? the ci-]ties of their land into de[solation ?...]"

The Q&A began with Baruch Levine complimenting him, "I think you're really onto something". Of Levine, Prof. Rainey told us, "We did our homework together!"

But then the next person, whose name I didn't get, said Prof. Rainey's presentation had a "very severe problem". Another classic example of scholars disagreeing.

For a more knowledgeable review of Rainey's paper, see Duane Smith's "Abnormal Interests" blog; for an alternate reaction to the subject & actual lecture, see Andrew Compton's "Confessional Reformed Contemplations" blog.

All in all it was a thrill to attend this one by the greatest contributor to the study of the historical geography of the holyland. Even though I can't say I had lunch with Anson Rainey, I can at least say I've heard him lecture on grammar, ancient alphabets, the Amarna letters, the Lachish letters, the Mesha stone, the Deir 'Alla texts, the Dan stela, the Hebrew Bible, the days of Hezekiah, the pronunciation of God's Name, & William Dever.

G.M. Grena

Saturday, December 15, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 10)

Upon leaving the National Association of Professors of Hebrew at 10:25 (God that sounds weird coming from me), I decided to check my voice-mail, because at that time I thought I might be able to arrange a lunchtime meeting with Andy Vaughn. Sure enough, he had received my E-mail from the night before, & gave me the disappointing news (left 15 minutes earlier):

"Hello George, this is Andy Vaughn. I just got your message about half an hour ago, & I'm at the airport. ... I'm headin' home today. ... thanks for your E-mail; sorry I didn't get it sooner, &, uh, maybe we can get in touch some other time. All the best, bye. "

I said hello again to Prof. McCarter when I reached the southernmost end of the CC, & immediately went into the same room where I had caught the tail-end of Jodi Magness on the first day (the tail-end of her lecture, that is). The previous speaker was just finishing in this session, "Literature and History of the Persian Period", & at 10:43, Prof. Oded Lipschits began his:

"Ramat Rahel as An Administrative Center in Judah during the Late Iron Age and Persian Periods"

"Ever since Yohanan Aharoni began his excavations at the site of Ramat Rahel five decades ago, it became clear that this was a unique site. The overall plan, the impressive architectural remains and the numerous stamped jar handles all indicate that the site must have played an important role during the days of the Judean kingdom. The discovery of 256 Yehud stamped jar handles dated to the Persian and early Hellenistic periods suggests that the site maintained its function and its ancient prestige during the Persian period. But what exactly was done at the site? And whose authority does it reflect? These questions and others still remain unsolved. The new excavations at the site conducted by the Archaeological Institute of Tel-Aviv University and the Theological Institute of Heidelberg University have revealed many finds that illuminate the questions presented above. The lecture will present the new finds and will evaluate their importance for understanding the role of Ramat Rahel during the Iron Age and the Persian period."

He began with a light-speed reprise of his ASOR lecture the previous week (the first one I attended in this entire series). Upfront, he cautioned those of us in attendance that the first part of his lecture would be a presentation of archeology, & humorously told us, "Don't run away!"

Again he emphasized that Aharoni's excavation was "poorly published", & showed the same slides with the same recurring Question Marks. This time I was ready for the ones of the excavation team lying on the ground to form Hebrew words, & saw that one of them was "LHR TMR" ("Ramat Rahel")!

The night before, I had written down 4 key questions I wanted him to address. One was a clarification of his statement during the ASOR lecture that his team had found "LMLKs" (plural) "under the floor ... Rosettas above". I had asked him this in the elevator the day before, but he didn't have time to answer. He ended up answering my question during the lecture by stating that only 1 had been found "in the field" corresponding with the level "under the floor"--it had not been found in-situ directly under the floor, made of "crushed limestone". However, during our semi-private discussion after the lecture, he added that he did find one in the fill, & "several in the field".

Prof. Aharoni had found many of his in association with this floor--above it, & in the fill for its foundation--so this new one adds no startling breakthrough, though it will be interesting, nonetheless, to see which seal design is on this particular handle when it's published. The important point is that the ASOR lecture left open the question that an unknown quantity--possibly many--had been found in a distinct occupation layer directly under the floor, whereas now we know that such is not the case. So no matter which seal designs were in the fill for this floor, if there is no clear occupation layer containing LMLKs under this floor, any of the ones associated with the construction of the floor could have been from any portion of Hezekiah's reign, even carryovers into Manasseh's reign, if you believe it was constructed during his reign instead of Hezekiah's; but more about this later.

In this lecture Prof. Lipschits also said, "We didn't locate the earliest plan of the site...", & as at ASOR, reiterated, "Where is the Vb citadel?" As a "working hypothesis", he suggested that there was "only one Iron Age phase", during the late 8th century, & that the palace was probably built at the beginning of the 7th century. He again emphasized that there was no sign of destruction during the 7th-4th centuries, "or even the 3rd"--more specifically, "no evidence for specific breaks" in the site's occupation during those turbulent eras.

This reconstruction of the site's history is "totally different than the simple picture" painted by Aharoni. The palace was "much bigger" on its east & south sides. At some point, a "large part of the outer court" was "artificially leveled", & overlaid with a "chocolate-like soil" that had been "brought from elsewhere", which Lipschits described as "garden soil". What Aharoni had thought was the "southwest corner" of the palace, has apparently been found to be "an enclosure", part of a largescale plan to "reshape" this hill & "create an impressive architectural monument".

Here my notes tell me that he showed some nice slides of the pools that may have been associated with the watering of this garden, but they were going by me so fast that I didn't have time to describe each one (you can see some of these on the excavation's official website). I made a little drawing showing the relation between this "garden" & the citadel & the palace, based on a really nice illustration shown during the lecture. Basically the garden area spans at least twice that of the 2 buildings combined.

On an architectural note, he mentioned the "sudden" use of "proto-Aeolic capitals" about "150 years after the Omrid" dynasty in northern Israel.

This time, he allowed enough time for me to copy down the quantities for each of the major stamped handles found at the prominent sites:

413 Lachish
283 Jerusalem
175 Ramat Rahel

Rosettes (235 known):
24 Lachish
84 Jerusalem
54 Ramat Rahel

Yehuds (415 known):
0 Lachish
76 Jerusalem
251 Ramat Rahel

(Note that the abstract to an article in Tel Aviv vol. 34 #1, 2007, co-authored by Lipschits & David Vanderhooft [whom I'll speak about later], states that 532 Yehuds are known--a huge difference from 415. I'm ordering a copy of this & will eventually write a detailed review.)

Obviously when juxtaposed like this, you can see a shift in the majority. Though Prof. Lipschits didn't specifically say it, you can see that he's suggesting that as Lachish was an important economic center prior to its Assyrian conquest, & as Jerusalem was an important economic center prior to its Babylonian conquest, Ramat Rahel served the same capacity during the Persian period. (Later in the lecture, he said that Mizpah was the center for the Persian government, & it's interesting that the significant handle quantities from en-Nasbeh were omitted from this list, not to mention el-Jib's!)

One problem with this suggestion is that I don't know anyone who would believe Lachish was ever a more economically prominent/active Judean site than Jerusalem--LMLKs be darned. Nor can I imagine Ramat Rahel being more economically prominent/active than Jerusalem during the Persian era. Ezra & Nehemiah didn't lead Jews back to a site near Jerusalem, they led them back to Jerusalem.

He said that whoever built Ramat Rahel, "they were aware of" the importance of having "eye-contact with Jerusalem", & Ramat Rahel presented a "rivaling image". Again, he showed a great number of excellent photographs looking from/to Ramat Rahel as he was speaking.

He noted that this area was "nearly empty" prior to the build-up at Ramat Rahel. Its valley is the "widest & richest to the south of Jerusalem", & was the best around for "growing vines without terraces". The scope of this development was "wider" than ever before, being bounded by Motsa to the northwest, Jerusalem to the northeast, Ramat Rahel to the southeast, & Rogem Gannim between Motsa & Ramat Rahel. He said that Motsa "supplied grain after the loss of the Shephelah".

Though not saying so directly, towards the end he seemed to want to say that Ramat Rahel was Biblical Beth Haccherem, but he never said it like that; it's clear that this is the belief he's leaning toward, & I certainly have no problem accepting it. I think the not-so-subtle suggestion is that he definitely does not believe it was MMST (counter to Gabriel Barkay).

If you were to take this 24-minute lecture & slow it down to my speed (or P. Kyle McCarter's talking rate), it would easily have exceeded an hour!

The Q&A was very brief, & the only noteworthy remark I recorded was that of Lester Grabbe, who was sitting behind me, who commented on the major break that occurred during the 3rd/4th centuries, which was actually a Hasmonean destruction in the middle of the 2nd century.

After another presentation (by John Kessler, accompanied by a very well-written 14-page handout--pity that every lecturer during ASOR & SBL didn't present take-home material of this caliber as I thought they would), the session concluded.

Prof. Lipschits spoke with people for about half an hour afterwards, including a student who expressed an interest in joining the excavation at Ramat Rahel. During this time I chatted with my LMLK friend, Robin DeWitt Knauth, who had also attended this session--disproving her prediction/doubt at ASOR that we would meet again at SBL, & she stayed to join me in conversation with Prof. Lipschits when he became available around noon.

I thanked him for clarifying the "handles-under-the-floor" issue. He said that he assigned separate students the responsibility of publishing chapters on the major handle types: one for LMLKs, one for Rosettes, one for Yehuds, one for YRSLMs, & even one for the Lions.

Rogem Gannim figured prominently in both of his lectures I attended. While waiting to speak to him, I asked Dr. Knauth what it meant in Hebrew, & she didn't know "rogem", but correctly translated "gannim" as "gardens". I should've known this because I have the first 2 chapters of Genesis memorized, & of course, EGN ("the garden"; singular) plays a prominent role. Later I asked Dr. Lipschits, & ironically, he wasn't sure of "gannim" (spelled that way in his maps & a TAU publication; spelled "ganim" elsewhere online), but correctly knew "rogem" as the famous tumuli west of Jerusalem where Gabriel Barkay excavated 2 LMLKs & 2 Circles handles in 1983 (BAR vol. 29 #3, May/Jun 2003).

Prof. Lipschits informed me of a recent issue of Tel Aviv journal (vol. 33 #2, 2006) wherein a LMLK handle was published that had been excavated by a fellow Tel Aviv University professor. Here's the abstract from the article by Raphael Greenberg & Gilad Cinamon, "Stamped and Incised Jar Handles from Rogem Gannim and Their Implications for the Political Economy of Jerusalem, Late 8th–Early 4th Centuries BCE":

"Twenty-two stamped and incised jar handles found at the site adjacent to the largest of the tumuli west of Jerusalem provide evidence for the continuous administrative/ commercial activity in the region during the late Iron Age and Persian Period. This evidence underscores the highly specialized character of economic activity in the Nahal Refa’im basin, borne out by the discovery of several dozen wine presses of Late-Iron-Persian date. A significant connection with the administrative centre at Ramat Rahel is indicated, suggesting that the expansion into the previously underexploited ecological zone was state-sponsored, necessitated by the sudden growth of Jerusalem and the Judean economy in the late 8th-7th century BCE."

I spent a portion of today researching this site, & discovered that a team led by Dr. Rafi Greenberg has apparently been digging there for 3 years to preserve it for the Ganim community. They even have a web page showing drawings of some of the handles (LMLK x2x at top, followed by what looks like a Rosette, then a Yehud on the left & Circles on the right; I'm not sure what to make of the 2 bottom ones).

It was really confusing for me, & still is to a certain degree since I didn't see Kiriat Menahem (or Kiryat Menah'em) named on these websites for Ganim, but the important point is that now in addition to Dr. Barkay's 4 handles found in the tumulus, there are at least 2 more (1 x2x, & 1 Circles) found in close proximity. Where exactly, I don't know. The real kicker is that this new work at the site recovered a Rosette ... but was it found in the tumulus, or merely some inhabited site near it? And why would a tumulus be located so close to a thriving agricultural site (or vice versa)?

You'll recall that a major thrust at the end of Dr. Barkay's article was that Tumulus #4 was probably constructed in honor of King Hezekiah, but now this Rosette may, in one fell swoop, eliminate that possibility.

The 2 most prominent scholars who have written about Rosettes in recent years, Jane Cahill & David Ussishkin, have dated the Rosettes after Josiah's reign, & interpret their purpose in relation to military supplies. Ms. Cahill assigns the earliest specimens to Jehoiakim's reign, while Ussishkin prefers Zedekiah. Now for him, this new discovery poses no problem because I seriously doubt he associates the tumuli with honor-mounds for Judean kings (I could be wrong though). As for Ms. Cahill, she has not published an opinion on the tumuli either.

But if you, dear readers, believe these tumuli were honor-mounds for the Judean monarchy, & Tumulus #4 is one of the largest (if not the largest), & it contained a Rosette, you have to wonder which king later than Josiah--if not Josiah--did it belong to? Just ask yourself which ones were popular leading to the downfall & ultimate destruction of the entire kingdom!

I'm anxious to examine the excavation report in detail (I'm ordering a copy & will update the LMLK Corpus after I've read it; & may write a blog report to clarify the issue if the Rosette proves to be completely unrelated to the tumulus), but at this point, it seems that Tumulus 4 may have belonged to this very popular king, who led a very important worship-reformation following Manasseh's reign, of which these Rosette-stamped jars testify to. Furthermore, the Hebrew caption under the Rosette drawing on the Ganim site names Josiah (LYASYEU EMLK; "of Josiah the king"), so this could be a major turn of events on this subject! Very exciting!

Since he had answered 3 of my 4 key questions during the lecture, there was only one I had left. It's clear from both of his lectures, that he believes the Assyrians built Ramat Rahel's palace after they conquered King Hezekiah (albeit leaving him like a caged bird in Jerusalem), & occupied it throughout the remainder of his reign & his son's reign. In this context, I asked him as succinctly as I could:

"What evidence do you have for the Assyrian occupation of Ramat Rahel during Hezekiah's reign as opposed to Manasseh's reign? How can you distinguish them archeologically?"

I asked this knowing that the Biblical record states unequivocally that Hezekiah reigned unmolested after Sennacherib suffered a devastating loss of military personnel by an angel, & some years later, 2Chronicles mentions Assyrian officials temporarily dethroning Manasseh.

Dr. David Vanderhooft (Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Department of Theology at Boston College), who had presided over the session, was listening in at this point, & correctly answered, "You can't!"

I was very impressed with his response! (I was not familiar with him or his background prior to this occasion, & noticed today that there was a controversy over his appointment to the prominent position at Boston College back around 2000/2001; but notice that one article says, "He is apparently well liked by everyone," & then in a later one, "Former students of his said they enjoyed his classes and were impressed with his depth in Old Testament history".)

Prof. Lipschits answered by saying that we know from Assyrian sources & Judean archeology that Hezekiah was defeated by the Assyrians.

It's really unfortunate that I didn't have a tape recorder for this encounter--most of what I'm writing in this blog is from my faulty memory. It will probably only take you a couple of minutes to read this section of my report, but the entire discussion lasted nearly half an hour!

I quickly countered this suggestion by asking how he interprets the purpose of the LMLK handles.

"General administration." He does not believe they were strictly used for military supplies.

I said that other prominent scholars, particularly David Ussishkin, insist that they strictly predate Hezekiah, & yet Aharoni found many still in use apparently after the construction of the palace at Ramat Rahel, not to mention Gabriel Barkay who believes the palace predated the Assyrian attack. If they were used before & after the palace, how can he be certain the palace was built by the Assyrians & used almost exclusively by the Assyrians after Hezekiah was "caged", especially if everyone but me believes the "king" of "LMLK" refers to Hezekiah? Why would the Assyrians use them?

He explained that "En Gedi is crucial" to understanding the LMLK phenomenon, as well as the Yehuds, one of which was found in Mesopotamia.

At some point, Dr. Knauth asked him to explain how he believes the jars actually functioned; for example, were they transported after being fired, or were they filled & then transported, etc. As they spoke, I was jotting down a few of the quotes you see italicized in this section. Another point I noted was that he believes the primary contents was oil, not wine.

At some point I backed up my belief that they were part of King Hezekiah's worship reformation per 2Chronicles. He reaffirmed the position held by the consensus of scholars that it's a biased document, & this section of the narrative is fictitious. Getting back to my opening question, I said that this is archeological evidence for the reliability of 2Chronicles--there is no scientific evidence to support the consensus position. 2Chronicles is the best explanation I can think of for the LMLKs found at the northern sites. I asked how he interpreted them.

He basically shrugged them off, "So you have 7 handles from 4 sites," (to paraphrase him) "So what? Big deal." In other words, they don't impact his ideas when viewed as a general-admin phenomena; he'd expect to find them all over the place, including Mesopotamia like the Yehuds, as remains from the economy. He asked if I had read Nili Fox's book on this subject, & I mentioned that she signed it for me the day before! (I didn't mention that I haven't had time to read it in its entirety--just the sections relating to LMLKs specifically.)

I countered his point about the Yehuds with the quantities, noting that LMLKs far outnumber the Yehuds, & yet none have ever been found outside of Israel, & the ones found so far line up fairly well with territories mentioned in 2Chronicles.

Eventually I conceded that he made some good points, & I had not been aware of the Mesopotamian Yehud handle. Nonetheless, I'm still waiting for someone to produce evidence that 2Chronicles is unreliable & unrelated to LMLKs. And if Prof. Lipschits is successful in publishing his evidence for LMLK jars in use at Ramat Rahel--even if by Assyrians, then David Ussishkin will have to rethink his interpretation of their usage at Lachish. Tel Aviv University can't have it both ways: short-term military supplies in a limited territory (i.e., Judah) vs. long-term general administration over a relatively huge territory (i.e., everywhere the Neo-Assyrians ruled).

I was surprised by how much time he was willing to spend discussing this subject with me, & thanked him very much. He could have left immediately after the session & enjoyed a lunch instead of staying behind 55 minutes after the session had ended.

Dr. Knauth & I headed north together; her destination was the Marriott, & mine was the Grand Hyatt. We walked at a brisk pace, & agreed that it was terrific of Dr. Lipschits to take the time to chat with us like that! She's attended these conferences for many years, but for me, since this was my first, I was thrilled beyond belief. It was an occasion I'll treasure forever (even if I can't remember all the details)!

And it just now dawns on me that all the time we were having this conversation with him, I had totally forgotten about how disappointed I was for not getting to meet Andy!

G.M. Grena

P.S. Apologies to the 2 or 3 people (& maybe I'm overestimating) who read this blog regularly--there was a 2-day lapse in this series because I worked overtime Thursday & Friday at my engineering job.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 9)

Of all 8 trips down & back, I encountered the most traffic Monday morning, causing a loss of 15 minutes, but which turned out to be inconsequential. All things considered, downtown traffic in San Diego never became a big deal.

My first session on this final day of the conferences was in a very large room of the Grand Hyatt, "Function of Apocryphal & Pseudepigraphal Writings in Early Judaism & Early Christianity (through 3rd to 4th centuries CE)", scheduled to begin at 9:00am. My goal was to meet James Charlesworth, ask him to autograph his landmark "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" (both volumes), & also ask about his LMLK handle(s).

I thought I had a good idea what he looked like from a recent BAR magazine photo in archeological attire, so I arrived around 15 minutes early & began scanning the crowd exiting a banquet next door that had just concluded. No one recognizable in attendance ... they all had suits on!

Around 8:55, Hershel Shanks arrived. I asked if he were planning to attend the Pseudepigrapha session with James Charlesworth, & he nodded. I pointed him in the right direction (I was standing near an intersection where I could keep one eye on people entering the lecture room, & another one on the long hallway approaching it), & noted that I was going to stay where I was so I could meet Dr. Charlesworth when he arrived. I watched as Mr. Shanks proceeded on & greeted a guy at the door who wasn't wearing a name tag. I had seen him outside, & though he had vaguely resembled the general description of Dr. Charlesworth in my mind, I couldn't be certain, & had decided not to risk approaching him. Sure enough, as I discovered once the lecture began, it was him.

In hindsight, I'm surprised Mr. Shanks didn't say, "Hey Jim, there's a guy waiting over there to meet you", or "Hey [George], here he is!" I guess he was either protecting him, or didn't care, or has a very short memory...

So there went my chances of getting to meet him. He had also spoken each of the 2 days previous, but Saturday morning I had decided to go to the museums, & Sunday evening I wasn't carrying his books because I had Andy's. I consoled myself by concentrating on the honor of at least being able to attend a lecture by him, & one related to the Pseudepigrapha (as his Sat. & Sun. papers were on subjects of little interest to me--DSS influence on Matthew & John):

"The Book of the People from the People of the Book"

"The scriptures did not descend from heaven in a complete form, but took shape due to expansion, addition, and final editing. The People of the Book were involved in shaping the book by a process that was long and extended from before the Babylonian Exile until past the first century. The focus of this report is column seven of the Pesher Habakkuk. By looking at this column we see a scribal school at work, correcting a commentary. It is also possible that scripture was changed to clarify the meaning of the lemma cited."

He discussed its "many scribal errors", showing how numerous consonants are "confused" in part due to the words not being separated, & also the lack of vowels. At one point I scribbled a note that Mike Welch would love to be here--he loves this kind of stuff, & is also a Charlesworth fan. Later, he talked about the "Wow connective" (I get a kick out of hearing people pronounce the consonants of the U & T Hebrew letters differently--yesterday Nili Fox said "-awv", & today he said "-ow"--that's about as different as they get). He asked, "Why would this scribe omit the Wow?"

Though I wasn't able to write fast enough to catch his exact wording, I'll paraphrase the answer thus: They not only copied the text, they felt empowered to interpret it as they went along for the purpose of sharing newly revealed meaning to the "people of the book". It was transmitted by people who revered it, but the interpretation belonged to the Holy Spirit.

(Note again that he, like Grabbe the previous night, only more so, did not feel it necessary to remind everyone that there's no such thing as a Holy Spirit.)

He concluded in dramatic fashion listing 8 types of "people of the book":
  1. The shepherds who selected the sheep

  2. The priests who scraped its skin

  3. The scribes who scribed the horizontal & vertical guidelines

  4. The craftsmen who sewed the skins together

  5. The [craftsmen?] who made the lampblack & adhesives for ink

  6. The handiwork of a gifted scribe who imagined what Habakkuk "should" have written

  7. Another scribe who corrected the mistakes & haplography

  8. Yet another scribe who restored the words that weren't copied

For additional/better information on this entire session, please direct your attention to Kevin Edgecomb's terrific blog (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3; compare the scholarly content of his report against mine for proof of the damage too many donuts, ketchup-soaked french-fries, & "I Love Lucy" reruns can do to one's brain over the years; in the words of Beth Alpert Nakhai, I feel like such a moron!).

This morning, like the other conference days, I had to make some tough choices. In the hope of getting to meet Dr. Charlesworth, I had passed up 2 interesting archeological lectures in a concurrent session, "Biblical Lands and Peoples in Archaeology and Text":

"Feasting Fit for a King: The Role of Feasting in the Development of the Israelite Monarchy" by Nathan MacDonald

(Speaking of fried yummies...)

"Although food is often viewed as a conservative element in society, it can also have a role in social change as recent work on feasting has sought to demonstrate. In this paper textual and archaeological data for the development of Israel from a segmentary society to a monarchy is re-examined. Whilst early proponents of the use of social-scientific methods made significant gains in their analysis of early Israelite society, their work had numerous gaps. One of these was the use of agricultural surpluses and how these were controlled and invested to drive forwards technological and social change. Recent anthropological and archaeological work on feasting allows this lacuna to be filled, whilst also highlighting the role food and feasting plays in the Old Testament literature that describes the early Israelite experience."

"The Extent and Intensity of Sennacherib's Campaign to Judah" by Avraham Faust

"A detailed examination of data from dozens of excavated sites, urban and rural alike, reveals that most parts of Judah prospered in the 7th century BCE. Systematic investigation of the data conducted both on the site level and on a regional basis allows us to identify patterns of continuity, prosperity and decline during the transition from the 8th to the 7th century BCE. In this paper the identified patterns will be presented, and possible explanations for them will be suggested. These patterns will then be compared and contrasted with information from the various textual sources (both the biblical and the Assyrian sources) on Sennacherib's campaign to Judah in 701, in order to gain a better understanding of the campaign and its impact on the kingdom of Judah."

Public denouncement to the SBL organizer(s) who scheduled this session to overlap with Charlesworth's Pseudepigrapha one: I hate you!

After Dr. Charlesworth's lecture, I had to choose between John Hobbins--another blogger I admire much, & another entry in this archeology session (which Ann Killebrew was presiding over):

"The Mesha Inscription and Iron Age II Water Systems: A Revised Proposal" by Jonathan Kaplan

"The Mesha Inscription details the construction of water systems at both Baal-Meon and Dibon (lines 9, 23-25). Mesha speaks of having made an ’šwh? in these two towns. The nature of this water system remains ambiguous in the text except for its distinction from private household cisterns (br; lines 24-25). In 1969 Y. Yadin identified the ’šwh? with the monumental water systems of the type present at Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer, and Gibeon. Recently, P. King and L. E. Stager have argued against Yadin’s suggestion and instead have correlated ’šwh? with the type of well-planned reservoirs present at Arad, Beth-Shemesh, Tel Sheva, and Kadesh Barnea. In this paper, I will first reexamine the meaning of ’šwh? and related hydrological terms in the Mesha Inscription and then explore the arguments made by Yadin and King and Stager against the backdrop of Iron Age II water systems in Israel and Judah. I will argue that King and Stager’s correlation of the ’šwh? with the southern group of water systems is highly probable and is further buttressed by evidence from the Copper Scroll (3Q15). I will also propose, building on linguistic observations made by J. A. Emerton and S. Ahituv, that the northern group of water systems may be correlated with the term mkrtt in line 25 of the Mesha Inscription."

I ended up choosing the former. His session was "National Association of Professors of Hebrew"--the last place on Earth you'd expect to find me! It was in the Marriott, & when I arrived at 10:07 & saw that it was one of the mini-rooms, I thought to myself as I stood in front of its (only) door, "This has got to be the most outrageous thing I've ever done in my life--I can't believe I'm doing this...", & I opened the door...

Sure enough, it was one of my worst fears personified--except for the scholarly gentleman was speaking, it was deafeningly quiet, several of the dozen-or-so attendees stared at me, & no empty seats in the back! I spotted one in the middle, so I quickly sat in it, & hoped they'd get over my interruption quickly, which I'm sure they did. From there on for the next 18 minutes, things went well, & though I soon discovered it was not Pastor Hobbins speaking, but David Stein (of Redondo Beach!!!), whom I had never heard of before. His paper turned out to be quite interesting (at least the latter half which I heard):

"The Grammar of Social Gender in Biblical Hebew [sic]"

"Most scholars of the Hebrew Bible accept that its grammatically masculine language at times functions in a gender-neutral or gender-inclusive manner. The same is said for 'male' personal nouns such as ’ish: in some situations they refer to women as well as to men. This paper attempts to fill an apparent void in scholarship by systematically addressing the following question: To what extent do the Bible’s masculine language and 'male' personal nouns allow for the possibility that women are in view? This paper's approach is philological (inductive), taking the biblical corpus as a whole and distilling the rules of its linguistic system according to a plain-sense reading of the text. The investigation, which focuses on what the biblical text seems to expect of its readers, arises out of research undertaken in the author's role as revising editor of 'The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS Translation' (Jewish Publication Society, 2006). After considering relevant observations in the standard grammars, the paper looks at the import of apparent maleness of three linguistic types: second-person singular address; third-person singular references; and so-called male nouns such as ’ish. It finds that such language does not specify social gender unless the the [sic] address or reference is either definite-particular or indefinite-specific. Often -- perhaps most of the time -- grammatically masculine language and so-called male nouns neither confirm nor deny social gender."

The most interesting point I captured from him was that "man" in Old English was a gender-neutral term, & it was perfectly normal in those days to say, "She's a really fine man!"

At first I thought that he was finishing up, but as time went on, I realized that either their agenda had changed, or he was greatly exceeding his allotted time. I had estimated Pastor Hobbins to speak from 10:10-10:45, & figured I'd be able to hear the first half before needing to head south for the CC; but alas, he didn't finish till 10:24. Now I had another tough decision: Should I stay to hear Pastor Hobbins' opening remarks--maybe 3 or 4 minutes at the most, & then exit; or should I exit before he began so as to not disrupt his presentation??

"How Well Do You Know Biblical Hebrew? Reflections on the Pedagogy of Menahem Mansoor"

"As his students will attest, Menahem Mansoor was a master teacher of biblical Hebrew. Key features of his method will be provided in outline, with personal memories thrown in for good measure. A strategy for recovering the strengths of Mansoor's method is set forth. A survey of online resources by which that might be done will be provided."

I chose the latter as a way of atoning for my earlier intrusion (assuming that this elite group of Hebrew professors would understand the concept of atonement). According to his report on his blog, I probably would've enjoyed his presentation because of the humor he interjected into it, but it would've been too rude to leave right after he had told an opening joke. Then again, from his description, I might have been so entertained as to lose track of time & forget the next stop on my agenda!

G.M. Grena

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SBL 2007 (p. 8)

At 5:05 I arrived back at what was supposed to have been Andy's session: "Biblical Lands and Peoples in Archaeology and Text". A very intelligent person placed a note outside the door closest to the podium saying, "Use other door." Yes, there is intelligent life out there after all!

I have to confess that when I walked back into the room (unobtrusively via the back door) & saw that Andy had not shown up, I really lost interest in the rest of the session. I walked in while one man was lecturing, it was either Izaak J. de Hulster or more probably David Ben-Gad Hacohen. The abstracts on SBL don't seem to match what little I recall about his lecture. The most interesting moment was during the Q&A when someone asked why he was following the JEDP system of referring to a particular OT writer, & he explained that it was just a letter, & didn't mean he agreed with JEDP. He told the person who asked the question, "Pick any letter you like!" Very funny!

There's an old saying that if you can't think of anything good to say about somebody, don't say anything. So I'm just going to give the title & abstract of the other lecture by Megan Bishop Moore, & note that she was very well dressed, & in my opinion the most beautiful lady I saw throughout the whole conference series:

"The Archaeology of the Ancient Near East: Israel as a Case Study?"

"At colleges and universities that do not have departments of Near Eastern studies, courses on the archaeology of the ancient Near East are frequently offered by religion departments. Often these courses must fulfill the stipulation, or at least the assumption, that the archaeology of ancient Late Bronze and Iron Age Palestine be a focus in order that the course be relevant to biblical studies. This paper examines the question of how a Near Eastern archaeology course can function as a religion course without sacrificing discussion of ancient Near Eastern peoples, places, eras, and other topics that are of little or no relevance to understanding the background of the Hebrew Bible. Specifically, it examines the possibility of using ancient Israel as a case study for that demonstrates some of the overarching issues archaeology addresses, including cultural change and the role artifacts play in illuminating the symbolic or mental structures in a society."

(Note: I copied/pasted this text directly from SBL's website, so any typos you perceive [if you managed to stay awake while reading the entire paragraph], were not by me. I also double-checked it with the paper booklet handed out at the conference.)

The chairs in the Marriott were extremely uncomfortable--they were obviously designed by a chiropractor to ensure future business. But this minor inconvenience was offset by our room on the 4th floor having a spectacular view of the sunset over the harbor.

As soon as Dr. Moore's Q&A was over at 5:50, I rushed up to Dr. Schneider, & asked her what had happened to Andy. She said he was simply swamped with ASOR business (he's currently their Executive Director until 2011).

What a bummer! Robert Deutsch was the only LMLK VIP I wrote to prior to the conference to confirm his attendance. I simply assumed that Andy would be there, especially because I knew of his ASOR position, & I totally regret not having written to him ahead of time to set up a private meeting. I had no way of contacting him directly while at the show, so the best I could do was go home & send an E-mail hoping to hook up sometime somewhere the following day (which I'll mention in a subsequent blog, but basically, we never met). Dr. Schneider recommended that I check with Ann Killebrew (who I didn't even know was right there, still seated) to get a message to him. It was nice to see her! I explained my situation, & gave her my phone # to pass along to Andy. (As I was writing the message, another gentleman asked her what happened to Andy--he's a very popular guy!) I also thanked her for choosing Jane Cahill to lead off the first chapter of the book she co-edited with Andy on Jerusalem--smart choice!

I then made my way down to the lobby level of the North Tower to see Lester Grabbe lecture. It had been scheduled to begin at 6:00, & was apparently on schedule because he was already speaking when I got there at 6:03. This was a slightly larger room that seated about 70-90 people (just a guess), & another one that had 2 closed doors. But to ease the pain of walking into an in-process session, I spotted an elderly couple approaching also, & decided (out of the kindness of my heart) to hold the door open for them, so that they could bear the brunt of all the stares from everyone inside! Sure enough, it was the door adjacent to the podium where Prof. Grabbe was positioned! And I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that he was 1 foot from the door when we opened it--it was very awkward. The room was almost completely full, except for several seats in the first few rows, where I immediately planted myself (as did the elderly couple) as quietly as possible. (For those of you old enough to remember Johnny Carson hosting The Tonight Show--remember when Frank Sinatra used to drop in unannounced through the curtain right next to his desk, & the crowd broke into enthusiastic applause? It was not like that when we walked into this lecture.)

Grabbe edited & co-authored portions of the 2003 book, "Like a Bird in a Cage: The Invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BCE". You can scroll down on that Amazon page to read a review by me (& compare to Eisenbraun's censored version--they have much better taste; the whole review with extended focus on LMLK material will appear in Lv2). I appreciate his candor in the book, showing a desire to understand the very complicated subjects surrounding LMLK seals.

His lecture on this occasion embraced a completely different subject:

"Daniel: Sage, Seer... and Prophet?"

"In recent scholarly tradition Daniel has been excluded from prophecy, but chs 7-12 have placed among the apocalypses. Support for this position has been found in the placing of Daniel among the Writings but also in the fact that Daniel is never referred to as a 'prophet' in the book. This paper will consider the position of Daniel in the light of recent study of prophecy and apocalyptic."

His same personality showed through on this occasion as he asked & attempted to answer various questions. He provided a very simple handout consisting of 8 comparisons between Jeremiah & Daniel, & then 7 other bullets:

Jeremiah: Called by God (1).
Daniel: Daniel & friends chosen (1).

Jeremiah: Associated with temple & royal court.
Daniel: Associated with king & court.

Jeremiah: Receives messages/revelations from God.
Daniel: (same)

Jeremiah: Opposed/persecuted by priests/nobility.
Daniel: Opposed/persecuted by priests/officials.

Jeremiah: Supported by powerful individuals (38).
Daniel: Supported by king (2, 4, 6).

Jeremiah: Given oracles against various nations (46-51).
Daniel: Given visions of fall of empires (2, 7, 8).

Jeremiah: 70-year prophecy (25, 29).
Daniel: 70 weeks of years prophecy (9).

Jeremiah: Symbolic vision/action with interpretation (13, 18, 24, 32, 35).
Daniel: Symbolic vision with interpretation (2, 5, 7, 8, 9).
  • Both prophecy & apocalyptic present themselves as delivering a divine message to human recipients.

  • Both have the function of addressing the contemporary audience with regard to their current situation & offering hope or advice or perspective.

  • Both presuppose a mythical worldview in which the unseen but very real heavenly world determines what will happen on earth & in the affairs of humans.

  • Both look forward to an ideal age in which earth (& heaven, in some cases) will be transformed & the righteous will live in peace & happiness.

  • Both contain significant paranetic material, warning, advising, & admonishing the reader not only for the present but also for the future.

  • Both prophetic & apocalyptic writings might be the product of a community, but equally they might be produced by a single individual.

  • Both have a large element of pseudepigraphic material.

Up till this last bullet, his material seemed very unbiased & well presented; for example, his first comparison for Jeremiah says simply, "Called by God." Unlike Nili Fox, he didn't feel the need to preface it with a snide remark about how "you & I beings of higher 21st-century intelligence know that God--if such a thing even exists--could not possibly have actually called Jeremiah, & so this is obviously a piece of literature produced by an imaginative writer..."

It's simply too bad that he didn't add the word "probably" between "Both" & "have", but that's OK. Since Prof. Grabbe wasn't using a computer, God had to resort to interrupting the lecture with indoor thunder (enough to make the floor shake, & prompt the person presiding over the lecture to go out & investigate). Now the naturalists among us will say, "Oh, come on, George; it was just the hotel staff carelessly folding up & stacking heavy tables in the adjacent room." Yes, & with 24 hours in a day, & 7 days in a week, it's quite a coincidence that they'd be hard at work this late on a Sunday evening! I'm sure that when the Marriott facilities coordinators negotiated their contract with SBL, they said, "Oh, & some of our professional, courteous maintenance people may be making extremely loud noises in the rooms adjacent to your scholarly lectures, but I'm sure your attendees won't be annoyed; now then, here's our fee, but if you don't want to be disturbed, the price will be triple--which package would you prefer?"

Anyway, another interesting point Grabbe made was that Daniel is actually referred to as a prophet in Qumran & NT literature, which he considered "surprising".

Grabbe also stated, "I think Jeremiah was a real figure," & "I think there may have been a real person named Daniel in the Persian court." He also made a comment about Enoch being "a real ante-deluvian", which was greeted with laughter from the crowd. Sorry, I didn't get that particular joke.

He concluded the lecture by making a point about apocalyptic writing--something like, it should be a sub-division of prophecy, & that scholarly convention in this field has problems. His final punch line was, "It raises some questions about scholarly convention, which in my mind is always a good thing."

Well, I certainly had no problem applauding that!

After the uneventful Q&A, the elderly couple I entered with beat me to Prof. Grabbe (karma for me setting them up during our entrance), & ended up discussing an arrangement for him to give a lecture at their institution. I stood by waiting patiently for about 20 minutes, though it seemed like 20 hours. I could tell Prof. Grabbe kept wanting to end the conversation too, but the couple just went on & on asking the same questions 20 different ways about how to contact him, & how to make payment, how to this, how to that. Oy veh! Enough already! Halfway through, the lady turned to me & said ever so politely, "We just have one more question, I hope you don't mind..."

I imagined myself smiling just as politely & saying in the sweetest possible voice, "No, it's OK; God's just using your annoying questions to punish me; it's quite alright..." To a certain extent I enjoyed the comedy of it all; during most of the time, Prof. Grabbe was packing his bag as overtly as possible to give them a hint, but they didn't get it.

Finally, when they were done, I showed him the book, & asked him to sign it, which he did as quickly as possible, adding the surprising comment, "Wow, you're one of the 2 people who actually bought this thing--that is assuming you didn't borrow it from a library." I would never have guessed that he felt that way about the book. It's actually a nice collection of perspectives on the most important military confrontation in human history, even though I disagree with all of them (not that I take any pleasure in raising questions about scholarly convention).

On the way back to my car (after peaking into the adjacent room to see if the Shekinah/Glory was still there), I stopped to chat with Beth Alpert Nakhai, & tell her how refreshing it was to hear people like her & Jodi Magness. I told her my plight to meet Andy, & also asked about Bill Dever's antiquities collection--I've been meaning to get info on his LMLK handles (she's the one who originally told me about them), & told her I find him intimidating, & wondered if she thought it would be appropriate for me to approach him on the subject if/when I see him (which I never ended up doing at the conference, since our paths never crossed again). In her usual style, she encouraged me, & that gave me sufficient warm-fuzzies for the long drive home.

G.M. Grena