Monthly Archives: March 2009

Albright – “dean of biblical archaeologists”

The Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters begins the entry on William F. Albright with these words:

Called the dean of biblical archaeologists in his last decades, William Foxwell Albright was also to become a well-known biblical interpreter.

Todd Bolen  calls attention to a new appreciation of William F. Albright by Thomas Levy and David Noel Freedman at The Bible and Interpretation. You may read Todd’s comments on The Legacy of William F. Albright at his Bible Places Blog. All of this is good reading.

Nineveh in danger of urban sprawl

It is no longer news that the ancient sites of Iraq are in danger of destruction. This has been caused by war, looting, and now urban sprawl. There is an informative article about the threat facing Ninevah (spelled Nineveh in English Bible translations) in The Christian Science Monitor here.

We can be thankful that many of the artifacts of ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, et al. are now displayed in the great museums of the world. The reliefs from the palace of the Assyrian king Sennacherib are displayed in the British Museum.

The panel below is a portion showing the Assyrian slingers at Lachish at the end of the 8th century B.C. The Bible says,

Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. (2 Kings 19:36)

King Sennacherib had these reliefs carved on his palace walls in Nineveh. Click on the image for a larger one.

Assyrian slingers at Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Assyrian slingers at Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The greatness of Nineveh is mentioned in the book of the prophet Jonah.

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you. (Jonah 3:1)

It would be nice if world conditions (economic, political, and religious) allowed renewed archaeological excavation of sites such as Nineveh.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Epaphras worked hard for the Laodiceans

Laodicea is mentioned only in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians (2:1; 4:13-16) and in the Revelation of John (1:11; 3:14). Paul says that Epaphras worked diligently for the saints in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis.

Here is a photo of the ruins of the stadium at Laodicea. Mount Cadmus can be seen in the distance to the east. Colossae was located at the foot of Mount Cadmus. Hierapolis was located to the north of Laodicea.

The stadium at Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The stadium at Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The stadium was an enclosed structure used for gladiatorial games. An inscription tells that a wealthy family dedicated it to Vespasian and Titus. One still can make our the unexcavated ruins of the 1000 feet long stadium.

Riblah in the land of Hamath

Riblah served as a base of operation for the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The city is located on a broad plain about 20 miles south of Hamath (modern Hama in Syria), on the main road between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Orontes River flows past the site on the west side. On a modern map you will locate Riblah in Syria immediately north of the border with Lebanon.

There is little more than a “country store” at the site today, but the name Riblah is preserved as Ribleh, Syria.

Riblah in the land of Hamath. Courtesy BibleAtlas.org.

Riblah in the land of Hamath. Courtesy BibleAtlas.org.

  • Pharaoh Necho imprisoned Jehoahaz, king of Judah, at Riblah. He later took him to Egypt where he died. The date was about 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:31-34).
  • Zedekiah, puppet king of Judah, tried to escape capture by the Babylonians. He fled Jerusalem but was captured on the plains of Jericho and brought to Riblah. There Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. His sons were slaughtered in his sight and he was bound with brass fetters and taken to Babylon. The date was 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:5-7; see also Jeremiah 39:5-6; 52:9-10).
  • The officials of Zedekiah were taken to Riblah where they were put to death (2 Kings 25:19-21; see also Jeremiah 52:26-27).

In 2002 a colleague and I spent several days visiting sites in Syria. Riblah was the most difficult to locate. Most folks, after seeing the site, would probably say, “What’s the big deal?”  Even though Riblah is mentioned only these few times in the Old Testament, it’s location makes it important in all movement between the south (Egypt and Israel) and Mesopotamia.

Riblah in the land of Hamath. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Riblah in the land of Hamath. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The slopes of this tell are now used as a cemetery. We know that this would make it difficult to negotiate rights to excavate.

IBR discussions on Jesus now online

Members of the Institute for Biblical Research who specialize in historical Jesus research have been meeting for the past 10 years to discuss essays written by group members. You may recognize the names of Darrell Bock, Craig Evans, Grant Osborne, Michael Wilkins, et al. During June, 2008, several members of the group met in Jerusalem. While there they were filmed at various sites discussing the relevant issues.

These scholars did not start with the assumption that the Bible is the world of God. Rather, they asked, is the Bible consistent with other documents of the first century? How would one go about to establish the historicity of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or Jesus?

The Day of Discovery TV program filmed these scholars on site in Israel discussing the various issues involved. Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? is the theme of the presentations. The first was filmed in the Synagogue in Capernaum; the second from Caesarea Philippi. From now through early April there will be a total of eight presentations. These will certainly be a fresh breath of air compared to the usual Easter fare on cable and network TV.

Enter the discussion here.

This photo shows the Banias River, one of the major sources of the Jordan River, at the site of Caesarea Philippi. It was in this region that Jesus was confessed to be the Son of the Living God by the apostle Peter (Matthew 16:13-20).

The Banias River at Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Banias River at Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Primetime Jesus