Eric M. Meyers is Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Duke University, where he also served as Director of the Graduate Program in Religion from 1979-1985 and from 2001-2007. Over the course of his career, he has held many distinguished positions, including Director of the W. F. Albright School of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and First Vice President for Publications of the American Schools of Oriental Research, which founded the Jerusalem School in 1900. He served as editor of the prestigious and award-winning magazine, Biblical Archaeologist (1982-1992) and as associate editor of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) from 1976-1993. He has served twice as president of the American Schools (1990-1996, 2006-2008). Dr. Meyers has authored or co-authored 12 books, edited 20 others, and has published approximately 350 scholarly papers, reports, and reviews in the field of Hebrew Bible and Biblical Archaeology and Jewish History. His latest volume, Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, has just appeared with Yale University Press (2012), co-authored by Mark A. Chancey. Having directed digs in Israel and Italy for more than 35 years, Professor Meyers is perhaps best known for his 1981 discovery of the oldest Ark from ancient Israel, which coincided with the film, The Raiders of the Lost Ark. He currently is completing publication work on the site of Sepphoris, near Nazareth, capital of the Galilee in the time of Jesus and the place where the Mishnah was compiled under the leadership of Rabbi Judah the Prince.
ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, October 5 – 7, 2012
From Tragedy to Triumph: The Exile and Its Aftermath (The Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 586 BCE and 70 CE)
Normally one associates the Exile of the Judeans in 586 BCE with the tragedy of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and its aftermath. The truth is that only about a half or more of the Judeans actually were exiled and their experience in Mesopotamia was not as bad as previously thought. On the contrary we will make the case that the Babylonian Exile constituted a major turning point in Jewish history that had positive results, the main ones being that the exiles learned to pray without a temple and began to edit their sacred writings, which became the core of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Likewise, a similar interpretation of history may be made for the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Rather than result in tragedy, once again the Jewish people turned events around to their advantage and tool steps to solidify their sacred writings and develop a new liturgy that would fit the changed circumstance without a temple.
The Challenge of Hellenism and the End of the Biblical Period
The transformation of the ancient Near East under the influence of Hellenism led to foundational changes in both the material and intellectual worlds of the civilizations Hellenism encountered. In the case of the “lands of the Bible,” Hellenism (and the subsequent Greco-Roman culture) contributed to the ultimate shape and character of the two primary religions that emerged from ancient Palestine: Judaism and Christianity. Hellenism began with Alexander the Great with the introduction of Greek language and culture in the last third of the fourth century BCE and took on its Romanized form after the conquest of the land of Israel in 63 BCE. It was that form, Greco-Roman culture, that dominated the Levant till the dawn of the Middle Ages and had such a dramatic impact on the two traditions we shall consider.