Overview of Some of the Most Important Recent Archaeological Finds in Israel

See here for an article on the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website about some of the most important archaeological finds in recent years in Israel…

Via Dr Aren Maeir.

Belief in the Resurrection in Ancient Context

Dr Christopher Rollston:


There is often a great deal of misunderstanding about this subject generally.  That is, people who do not work in ancient history or ancient religion often assume that a belief in a resurrection was some sort of distinctively Christian belief.  That, however, is a serious misconception.  The fact of the matter is that within various segments of Late Second Temple Judaism, as well as within Early Post-Biblical Judaism, the notion of a resurrection was warmly embraced by many.  The locus classicus in the Hebrew Bible is arguably the following text from the mid-2nd century BCE: “Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting peril” (Dan 12:2; notice here that the correlative of “damnation” or “hell” is also present in some fashion, of course).  Within the Old Testament Apocrypha, the notion of a resurrection is embraced at times as well, with the narrative about the martyrdom of “the mother and her seven sons” being a fine exemplar of this.  Thus, according to the narrative, one of the sons said during the torture that preceded his death: “the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws” (2 Macc 7:9).  Similarly, the mother herself says within the narrative, as an exhortation to her martyred sons: “the Creator of the world…will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again” (2 Macc 7:23).  2 Maccabees arguably hails from the first half of the 1st century BCE.   Regarding the dead, the Wisdom of Solomon also affirms that the dead “seemed to have died,” but “they are at peace,” and “their hope is full of immortality,” and they will ultimately “shine forth” and “will govern nations and ruler over peoples” (Wisdom 3:2-8 passim, with the Greek future tense being used here).  The Wisdom of Solomon arguably hails from the second half of the 1st century BCE.  Significantly, all of these texts antedate the rise of Christianity and they all affirm a belief in a resurrection.  In short, many Jewish people believed in a resurrection long before Christianity came along.  To be sure, a belief in a resurrection was not universally accepted by all Jewish people in the Second Temple period.  Some Jewish people did not believe in a resurrection.  For example, the traditionalist Ben Sira rejected the notion of eternal bliss for the righteous and eternal punishment for the wicked.  Thus, he wrote: “Who in the netherworld can glorify the Most High, in place of the living who offer their praise?  No more can the dead give praise than those who have never lived; they glorify the Lord who are alive and well” (Sir 17:27-28).  In sum, although not all Jewish people of the Late Second Temple period accepted the notion of a resurrection, there are texts from this period that demonstrate that a fair number did…

Furthermore, the Jewish historian Josephus (lived ca. 37-100 CE) also discusses the subject of the perishability and imperishability of the soul, with regard to some of the major strands of Judaism during the first century of the Common Era…

Read on here.

And from the conclusion:

Thus, in the final analysis, the cumulative evidence is decisive: There is nothing distinctively “Christian” about a belief in a resurrection.  Rather, some segments of Late Second Temple and Early Post-Biblical Judaism believed in a resurrection and some segments did not.  Christianity, as an heir to apocalyptic branches of Judaism, was quite consistent in always affirming a belief in a resurrection, but the fact remains that belief in a resurrection is well attested prior to the rise of Christianity, and this belief also persists in certain segments of Judaism after the rise of Christianity.

Christopher Rollston


Is this Britain’s First Christian Burial?

Anglo Saxon grave reveals 16-year-old girl laid to rest with a gold cross

The Daily Mail reports:

Laid to rest in her best clothes and lying on an ornamental bed, she was probably of noble blood.

Quite how the 16-year-old Anglo Saxon girl died and who she was remain a mystery.

But she was buried wearing a gold cross – suggesting she was one of Britain’s earliest Christians.

Her well-preserved 1,400-year-old grave has been discovered by Cambridge University scientists, who described the find as ‘astonishing’.

The burial site at Trumpington Meadows, a village near Cambridge, indicates Christianity had already taken root in the area as early as the middle of the 7th century.

It was not long after St Augustine, a monk in Rome, was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the English in the year 595.

Starting in Kent, his team of 40 missionaries slowly worked their way around the country and he became the first Archbishop of Canterbury two years later.

But progress is thought to have been slow and sometimes difficult, and Christians and pagans co-existed for many decades.

The new find gives an insight into this transition period as she was also buried with a knife and glass beads to use in the next life – a pagan tradition of ‘grave goods’ which goes against Christian beliefs. Dr Sam Lewsey, an expert in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, said: ‘This is an excessively rare discovery. It is the most amazing find I have ever encountered.

‘Christian conversion began at the top and percolated down. To be buried in this elaborate way, with such a valuable artefact, tells us that this girl was probably nobility or even royalty. This cross is the kind of material culture that was in circulation at the highest sphere of society.’

The grave is one of 13 Anglo Saxon ‘bed burials’ to be discovered. Usually reserved for noble women, they involved being laid to rest on a wood and metal frame topped with a straw mattress. Such burials are not found after the 7th century.

The girl’s inch-wide gold cross, studded with cut garnets, has been dated to between 650 and 680AD.

It was probably sewn into her clothing around the neck and may have been worn in her daily life.  Four graves were found at the site, the others containing an individual in their 20s whose gender is unknown, and two girls in their late teens, who had no religious signs.

It raises the question of whether the woman buried with the cross had an official role in the fledgling Christian church.

Wow, this is very interesting.

There is more with photos aplenty here.


The James Ossuary Trial Verdict: Not Guilty

Breaking News: Golan and Deutsch Acquitted of All Forgery Charges.

Forgery Allegations Dismissed by James Ossuary Trial Verdict.

Biblical Archaeology Society:

The Biblical Archaeology Society has just learned that the District Court in Jerusalem exonerated Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch of all serious charges of forgery. Judge Aharon Farkash stated that there is no evidence that any of the major artifacts were forged, and that the prosecution failed to prove their accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.  The allegedly forgeries include the famous James Ossuary, whose inscription reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Several other ancient artifacts, including the “Three Shekels” ostracon, the “Widow’s Plea” ostracon,and the Jehoash tablet, the first extant royal Israelite inscription, were cleared of charges by the “forgery verdict of the century.”

Wednesday’s verdict ruled that there is no evidence of forgery for the James Ossuary.

The debates on the artifacts’ authenticity will surely continue, but this verdict clears Golan and Deutsch. The academic discourse on the implications of the James Ossuary can now proceed without the impediment of the forgery trial. While all of the major charges were dismissed on grounds of lack of evidence of forgery, others were dropped due to the statute of limitations. However, Golan was found guilty of trading in antiquities without a permit and another minor charge. Deutsch was acquitted on all counts.  Oded Golan will be sentenced on December 23, 2012.

See also The Times of Israel:

Archaeology ‘trial of the century’ ends in acquittal of accused forger.

Israel’s state prosecutor charged Oded Golan with forging biblical antiquities. After 7 years in court, the trial ended Wednesday with the collapse of the case…

Read on here.


10 Die in Egypt while Digging for Ancient Treasures


CAIRO — Ten people were killed when the soil caved in on them as they were illegally digging for ancient treasures under a house in a central Egyptian village, police officials told AFP on Monday.

The 10, including four brothers, were buried alive when the walls of the dig collapsed in the village of Arab al-Manasra, north of the historic city of Luxor.

Rescue services were working to recover the bodies, the official said, adding that two people were also injured in the incident.

Ambitions of making money quickly have incited many to turn to illegal archaeological digging, particularly in antiquities-rich locations such as Luxor, Aswan and Cairo.

“We have to work on many levels to stop these get-rich-quick schemes, where people are digging for an illusion,” Mansur Boreik, head of the Luxor antiquities department told AFP.


New Website for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Launched

By the Custody of the Holy Land:

The site, with enhanced graphics, offers numerous updated materials in four languages ― Italian, English, Spanish, French ― along with a rich selection of images and downloadable photos of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The contents, organized thematically in a simple and intuitive manner, will accompany visitors in their discovery and understanding of the single most important place in all Christianity.

One of the highlights of the site is the Virtual Photo Tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a fascinating tool which allows everyone to visit the church, entering into the architectural areas and the sacredness itself of the place. Using the player on the Home Page one can follow all the events of Easter 2012 in Jerusalem, thanks to the videos produced by the Franciscan Media Center. In addition, the news box allows one to always keep up to date on the latest news from the Custody and the Holy Land.

The unveiling of the site is the first stage of a larger Project for renovating the Internet sites of the Sanctuaries, a project designed to assist pilgrims coming to the Holy Land, as well as all those who are simply looking for information on the Sanctuaries.


To see and touch the very places that were themselves touched and transformed by Christ’s presence is a desire shared by all Christians. Since the very beginning, Christians have come to the Holy Land to tread upon, and follow in, the footsteps of Jesus’ disciples.

The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which has the responsibility for caring for the Sanctuaries and welcoming pilgrims, also wishes to accompany the faithful in their discovery and learning about the Holy Places via the Web. For this purpose, it is carrying out a Project for renovating the Internet sites of the Sanctuaries which today sees the launch of the first site, dedicated to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The numerous contents offered on the site move through the “History” of the church, from its original construction at the wish of Emperor Constantine to the present-day coexistence among the Christian communities that officiate at the Tomb.

One section is dedicated to a “Visit” of the facility, allowing the visitor to undergo a 360o learning experience by means of a virtual photo tour and the wide range of information provided. The heart of the site is the section dedicated to “Spirituality” which allows one to review the evangelical facts that lead to the “empty tomb” of the Risen One and the Christian memories safeguarded within the church.

Finally, a series of passages selected from the works of both ancient and modern pilgrims is provided in the section “Testimonies”.

During the course of the next quarter we will be launching sites for the sanctuaries of Capernaum, Gethsemane, the Nativity and the Annunciation.

You can visit the website here.


Archaeology and the Bible

Associates for Biblical Research Director of Development Henry Smith:

Subjects of this interview include: Egyptian Inscription mentioning Israel, the ABR Dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Child Sacrifice and Abortion, and the influence of worldview on interpreting evidence.



Byzantine Manuscripts Restoration

How to repair a Byzantine Manuscript:

HT: Byzantine News


Video: Cuneiform Tablets from the UCLA Library



Dominus Flevit, Where Jesus Wept over Jerusalem

Dominus flevit. In the middle of the Mount of Olives lies the Franciscan sanctuary that preserves the memory of the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. It’s also an important place for valuable archaeological evidence about early Christianity.



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