Tag Archives: Ancient Studies & Technology

“Logos Now” and Greek Manuscript Exploration

Many of you know I work for Logos Bible Software (now under the corporate umbrella of Faithlife Corporation). As my colleague at work Rick Brannon explains:

[Logos] has shifted [its] flagship product, Logos Bible Software on the desktop, to a six-week release cycle. We’ve also introduced a subscription model called Logos Now which provides access to the latest features and datasets that otherwise would’ve waited to be integrated with a major software release.

To illustrate why that’s significant, have a look at Rick’s short post (with illustrations and a video) about Logos’ new tools for exploring information about the various manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint.

Honestly, Rick just makes cool stuff.

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Review of Edited Volume of Papers Delivered at Jerusalem Conference on the Alleged Jesus Family Tomb

The Society of Biblical Literature’s Review of Biblical Literature just published a review of James H. Charlesworth’s edited volume, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). The review is by Jodi Magness, who begins the review this way:

This  volume  contains twenty-six papers  (plus  an  introduction  and  conclusion  by  the editor)  presented  at  a  conference  that  was  held  Jerusalem  in  January  2008  on  “Jewish Views  of  the  After  Life  and  Burial  Practices  in  Second  Temple  Judaism:  Evaluating  the Talpiot  Tomb  in  Context.” Although  most  of  the  papers  focus  on  some  aspect  of  the Talpiyot (or Talpiot)tomb and its ossuaries and/or the “James ossuary,” they are written by scholars with widely varying perspectives and fields of expertise, including archaeology, epigraphy  and  paleography,  theology,  social  history,  biology,  statistics,  New  Testament, rabbinics, religious studies, geology, women’s studies, and mathematics.

For  those  who may  not  remember,  in  March  2007the  Discovery  Channel  broadcast  a documentary by  Simcha  Jacobovici in  which  he  claimed that  the  lost  tomb  of  Jesus  and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem (also published in a related book). This was none other than the Talpiyot tomb (so-called after the Jerusalem neighborhood in which it is located), which was excavated by archaeologists in 1980 after it was discovered during construction  work. A  final  report  on  the  Talpiyot  tomb  excavation  was  published  in ‘Atiqot in 1996. The tomb contained ten ossuaries, six of them inscribed (five in Aramaic and   one   in   Greek),   while   the   remaining   four   are   plain   (one is now   missing). Archaeologists  noted  that  some  of  the  names  in  the  inscriptions  (e.g., Yeshua  son of Yehoseph;  Marya;  Mariam/Mariame;  Yoseh  [apparently  a  diminutive  of  Yehosef])  recall individuals  associated  with  Jesus  in  the  NewTestament  accounts but  considered  this  a coincidence, as  these  were  common  names  among  the  Jewish  population  at  the  time. However, in the documentary Jacobovici claimed that the inscriptions identify this as the tomb  of  Jesus  and  his  family, marshalling an  array  of  supporting  evidence that includes statistical  and  DNA  analyses. The  implications  of this  claim  are  that  Jesus  was  not resurrected  (as  his  physical  remains  were  placed  in  an  ossuary), that  he  was  married  to Mary Magdalene (who supposedly is named in one of the inscriptions), and that he had a son  named  Judah  (as  one  of  the  ossuaries  is  inscribed  Yehudah  bar  Yeshua). Jacobovici also has attempted to prove that an adjacent, unexcavated tomb (the Patio tomb) contains the remains of followers of Jesus and that the James ossuary (which has no archaeological provenience but surfaced in a private collection) is the tenth (now missing) ossuary from the Talpiyot tomb.

The review isn’t long, but it’s informative. Highly recommended.

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A Blow to Racist Fringe History

Jason Colavito has an interesting post on some recent research that damages the Solutrean Hypothesis. For those who haven’t heard of this, Jason explains:

Fringe history believers have long used the Solutrean claim as evidence for European primacy in the Americas, a belief that stretches back at least as far as the lost white race of Mound Builders the first European colonists imagined had been killed off by bloodthirsty Natives. As Scott Wolter told it on America Unearthed, the Solutrean hypothesis explains that white Europeans were the first Americans, long before Native Americans crossed over from Asia. White supremacists like John de Nugent, Kyle Bristow, and radio host Frank from Queens have gone still farther and proposed on these grounds that America was once a white cultural homeland, possibly the Garden of Eden, before “Beringians”—i.e., non-white Native Americans—crossed over and killed them all in a violent race war.

Jason then links to an essay in Science Magazine that discusses new findings in regard to the Solutream hypothesis — and the news isn’t good for “alternative historians.”

As Jason notes, what’s really a shame (or sham) here is the notion (common in the 19th century, but still around) that the “high” civilizations of North America (think the moundbuilders and the Incas, for example), really owe their technological skill to white Europeans of the distant past. Surely the native (non-White) populations were too backward and stupid to build anything that would impress anyone.

In the Old World (e.g., Egypt) the way “researchers” foist the same covert racism on us is the ancient alien hypothesis. Surely the Egyptians, for example, needed help from space to build the pyramids. If you don’t think racism is at the heart of that idea, then you need to start reading the theosophical literature from the 19th century — an endless pool of claptrap from which alternative historians get advanced civilizations and lost continents (Atlantis, Lemuria, Hyperboreans, etc.). Those advanced civilizations settled in the north and then migrated into places like India, Egypt, and Europe … from which their enlightened descendants migrated to North America. It’s really all aliens and their advanced white progeny.

In short, all the major elements of ancient alien theory can be found in the speculative literature (and its horror fiction) from the 19th-early twentieth centuries. The ideas that were “cutting edge” 150 years ago are the urce for the “alternative” perspective alternative historians and ancient alien hucksters present to their viewers and readers today. But for folks not familiar with that stuff, it all looks and sounds so “astonishing” that it gains an audience.


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