With the holiday season (and all of the associated feasting) upon us, we took a cue from the candy, cookies and turkeys and stuffed the November/December 2012 issue of BAR full of great articles and fascinating columns.
For starters, we explore Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai desert. “Is it a she or is it a he?” is only one of the tantalizing questions raised by the remarkable finds at this remote site in “The Persisting Uncertainties of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud.” Why was it built? What is it? Why was it abandoned? And why has it taken nearly four decades to publish the final excavation report? One thing is clear, however: Several inscriptions recovered in the excavation mention the Israelite God “Yahweh.”
Next we turn to some much more familiar sites. In an unprecedented breakthrough, paleographer Ada Yardeni recently identified the handwriting of a single scribe on more than 50 Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran and Masada. What can this elaborates about the scribal community at Qumran? Scroll expert Sidnie White Crawford in “Scribe Links Qumran and Masada.”
Then we take a new look at some even older caves. Nearly a century ago, French archaeologist Raymond Weill excavated what he identified as tombs in Jerusalem’s City of David—perhaps the royal necropolis of the kings of Judah as located in the Bible. As Jeffrey R. Zorn explains in “Is T1 David’s Tomb?” some scholars have since disputed this claim, but a new examination of more recent archaeological evidence suggests that archaeologist Weill might well have been right. After you’ve read the article, get a closer look at more photos and excavation drawings from the tombs on our website.
At this time of year, most Christians are focusing on the birth of Jesus, but we’re taking a different look at the beginning of Christianity. A small group of observant Jews were the first followers of Jesus. But Christianity evolved into a largely gentile movement over the next century. When were non-Jews first accepted as Jesus’ followers, and how were they distinguished from the original Jewish Christians? Read “From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity” by Geza Vermes to find out.
Our columnists offer bite-size tastes of more Bible and archaeology topics (by genaa). In his First Person, BAR editor Hershel Shanks asks what we should do when the experts disagree. Leonard Greenspoon explores popular uses of the Biblical phrase “It is better to give than to receive” in The Bible in the News. After a momentous year in Great Britain, Henry W. Morisada Rietz explores the Biblical connections of “God Save the Queen” in Biblical Views. And Yonatan Adler uses the case of chalkstone vessels to further the discussion in Archaeological Views of the relationship between text and archaeology.
As always, there’s even more to explore online at Bible History Daily where you can access daily articles on key Biblical archaeology topics, the latest news, book reviews and dozens of free eBooks including our new one, Ancient Israel, Egypt and the Exodus. If you haven’t tried our digital issue, check it out here or download our brand-new iPad app. We also have more letters from our readers with responses from the article authors. Our BAS Library features easy access to all footnoted articles in BAR Notables and new Special Collections each month.
This issue of BAR is one treat you can actually gobble up guilt-free.