Bible Archaeology

Maximalists vs Minimalists: A Good Survey

Via Bible

If you think that archaeology is boring, you should take thirty minutes this weekend and read Asaf Shtull-Trauring’s article in the Haaretz magazine.  This lengthy piece interviews the major players in the chief dispute in Israeli archaeology today.  Those familiar with the minimalist-maximalist debate over the United Kingdom of Israel will find a good bit that is new.  Those looking for an introduction to the conflict can hardly do better than start here.

Keep reading here.


Muslims Already Name Location ‘Martyr’s [Osama bin Laden’s] Sea’

Will Osama bin Laden’s sea burial backfire, asks the Daily Mail?

Radical Muslims are already calling the site of Osama bin Laden’s ocean burial the ‘Martyr’s Sea’, according to one of Britain’s leading Islamic scholars.

The US said the decision to drop bin Laden’s body into the North Arabian Sea was taken to avoid creating a shrine for the slain Al Qaeda chief.

But Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at Cambridge University, claimed yesterday that the move could backfire on the Americans.

Speaking on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, he said it was ‘disappointing’ that bin Laden wasn’t taken into custody.

‘By tipping him into the sea, the Americans may have created a kind of shrine. Some radicals are already calling the Arabian Sea the Martyr’s Sea,’ he said.

‘Given Muslim ideas of holiness diffusing over large areas it is possible that a pilgrimage will develop as radicals stand on beaches contemplating the virtues of their dead hero,’ he added.

‘Muslim scholars have been worried about the manner in which his mortal remains were consigned to the deep, he added, saying that Islam’s most respected scholars had already decreed the sea burial ‘religiously improper.’

‘Even mass murderers deserve a religiously valid burial. We are judged on how we behave when in a position of strength,’ he said.


Now I Lie Me Down to Sleep…

First please read Second Corinthians 4:13-18, John 6:47-58, and Hymn 455

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

So many people have asked so many questions about Anita’s death that I feel obliged to address some of them, not as a lachrymose indulgence in mourning but as a good and godly opportunity for learnings we can all use and apply ourselves, because her preparations for physical death were as positive as her life always was. We are all going to die to this mortal world – perhaps Anita and my preparations for this inevitability, preparations both worldly and spiritual, can be of help to you.

Continue reading Rev Elijah White’s story at Virtue Online.



NT Wright on the Killing of Osama bin Laden

Former Bishop of Durham Dr Tom Wright has sent us this:

(Rt Revd Prof N T Wright, formerly Bishop of Durham, now Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews)

Consider the following scenario. A group of IRA terrorists carry out a bombing raid in London. People are killed and wounded. The group escapes, first to Ireland, then to the United States, where they disappear into the sympathetic hinterland of a country where IRA leaders have in the past been welcomed at the White House. Britain cannot extradite them, because of the gross imbalance of the relevant treaty. So far, this is not far from the truth.
But now imagine that the British government, seeing the murderers escape justice, sends an aircraft carrier (always supposing we’ve still got any) to the Nova Scotia coast. From there, unannounced, two helicopters fly in under the radar to the Boston suburb where the terrorists are holed up. They carry out a daring raid, killing the (unarmed) leaders and making their escape. Westminster celebrates; Washington is furious.
What’s the difference between this and the recent events in Pakistan? Answer: American exceptionalism. America is allowed to do it, but the rest of us are not. By what right? Who says?
Consider another fictive scenario. Gangsters are preying on a small mid-western town. The sheriff and his deputies are spineless; law and order have failed. So the hero puts on a mask, acts ‘extra-legally’, performs the necessary redemptive violence (i.e. kills the bad guys), and returns to ordinary life, earning the undying gratitude of the local townsfolk, sheriff included. This is the plot of a thousand movies, comic-book strips, and TV shows: Captain America, the Lone Ranger, and (upgraded to hi-tech) Superman. The masked hero saves the world.
Films and comics with this plot-line have been named as favourites by most Presidents, as Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence pointed out in The Myth of the American Superhero (2002) and Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil (2004). The main reason President Obama has been cheered to the echo across the US, even by his bitter opponents, is not simply the fully comprehensible sense of closure a decade after the horrible, wicked actions of September 11 2001. Underneath that, he has just enacted one of America’s most powerful myths.
Perhaps the myth was necessary in the days of the Wild West, of isolated frontier towns and roaming gangs. But it legitimizes a form of vigilantism, of taking the law into one’s own hands, which provides ‘justice’ only of the crudest sort. In the present case, the ‘hero’ fired a lot of stray bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan before he got it right. What’s more, such actions invite retaliation. They only ‘work’ because the hero can shoot better than the villain; but the villain’s friends may decide on vengeance. Proper justice is designed precisely to outflank such escalation.
Of course, ‘proper justice’ is hard to come by internationally. America regularly casts the UN (and the International Criminal Court) as the hapless sheriff, and so continues to play the world’s undercover policeman. The UK has gone along for the ride. What will we do when new superpowers arise and try the same trick on us? And what has any of this to do with something most Americans also believe, that the God of ultimate justice and truth was fully and finally revealed in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, who taught people to love their enemies, and warned that those who take the sword will perish by the sword?
The above was here. (Scroll down to below the video and comments on the same subject be the Archbishop of Canterbury.)