Monthly Archives: October 2010

About 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls to be put online

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today a partnership with Google R&D Center in Israel to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available online. The project will be called the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project because the major lead gift is from the Leon Levy Foundation. Here are some excepts from the IAA press release.

A major lead gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional major funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the support of Yad Hanadiv Foundation, will enable the Israel Antiquities Authority to use the most advanced and innovative technologies available to image the entire collection of 900 manuscripts comprising c. 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in hi-resolution and multi spectra and make the digitized images freely available and accessible to anyone anywhere in the world on the internet. This is the first time that the collection of Scrolls will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950’s.

The IAA announced this morning that it is collaborating with the Google R&D center in Israel in this milestone project to upload not only all of the digitized Scrolls images but also additional data online that will allow users to perform meaningful searches across a broad range of data in a number of languages and formats, which will result in unprecedented scholarly and popular access to the Scrolls and related research and scholarship and should lead to new insights into the world of the Scrolls.

The innovative imaging technology to be used in the project has been developed by MegaVision, a U.S. based company, and will be installed in the IAA’s laboratories in early 2011. The MegaVision system will enable the digital imaging of every Scroll fragment in various wavelengths in the highest resolution possible and allow long term monitoring for preservation purposes in a non-invasive and precise manner. The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the Scrolls, thus eliminating the need for re-exposure of the Scrolls and allowing their preservation for future generations.  The technology will also help rediscover writing and letters that have “vanished” over the years; with the help of infra-red light and wavelengths beyond, these writings will be brought “back to life”, facilitating new possibilities in Dead Sea Scrolls research.

Uploading the images to the internet will be achieved with the assistance of Google-Israel and will be accompanied by meta-data including transcriptions, translations and bibliography.

According to Shuka Dorfman, IAA General Director, “we are establishing a milestone connection between progress and the past to preserve this unique heritage for future generations. At the end of a comprehensive and profound examination we have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to freely access history in its fullest glamour. We are proud to be embarking on a project that will provide unlimited access to one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century, crucial to Biblical studies and the history of Judaism and early Christianity. We are profoundly grateful to Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation for their lead major gift and to the Arcadia Foundation for its major gift to this project.”

The IAA press release with a link to several photographs is available here.

IAA photo from the pilot project in St. Paul

IAA photo from the pilot project in St. Paul

If you thought the Dead Sea Scrolls had not been made public, take a look at this sentence from the News Release:

This is the first time that the collection of Scrolls will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950’s.

HT: Joseph Lauer

When purple is blue

The Mosaic law commanded the Israelites to put a blue cord on the corner tassels of their garments.

“Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. (Numbers 15:38 CSB)

“Dyeing To Be Holy” is the title of a feature article in The Jewish Daily Forward by Nathan Jeffay. The article says that the source of the dye used to obey the command of the law has been lost for more than 1,200 years.

Roman emperors from the first century BCE onward wanted tekhelet reserved as a status symbol for the governing classes, meaning that it became progressively more difficult for Jews to obtain it. This, together with other political and economic factors, meant that by the eighth century, Jews had lost the tradition of how to obtain the dye, and tzitzit became the all-white fringes that are familiar today.

But now, a Jerusalem-based not-for-profit organization, Ptil Tekhelet, claims to have rediscovered it. “This is the experience of a mitzvah’s renaissance,” said the man leading the group of Talmud-studying snorkelers, Mois Navon, a computer programmer, ordained rabbi and Ptil Tekhelet board member. “For a biblical commandment to be returned to the people is really something significant.”

In the past, rabbinic sources have stated that tekhelet comes from a snail called the hilazon. But hilazon isn’t a biological species name, just a rabbinic name. The mystery was figuring out the species to which they were referring.

The modern search for the answer began in earnest in the early 20th century, when Isaac Herzog, who went on to become the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, wrote a doctoral thesis in which he concluded that a snail called the Murex trunculus (the scientific name for hilazon) was the “most likely candidate” for the source of tekhelet.

Hilazon snail. Photo courtesy Ptil Tekhelet.

Hilazon snail. Photo courtesy Ptil Tekhelet.

The report continues,

Key to Herzog’s conclusion was the fact that archaeological digs uncovered large ancient dyeing facilities close to Haifa, and mounds of Murex trunculus broken open, apparently to access their dye.

But Herzog hit a snag. The snail’s dye was purplish blue, not the pure blue described in the Talmud. It took until the early 1980s for this riddle to be solved. In research unrelated to the search for the biblical dye, Otto Elsner, a professor at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, near Tel Aviv, noticed that on sunny days, Murex trunculus dye became more blue and less purple. It turned out that the missing link between Herzog’s experiments and biblical dyeing methods was ultraviolet light, which transforms the blue-purple colorant to unadulterated blue.

Read the full article here.

There are some dissenting comments with the article.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Replica Phoenician ship completes 20,000 mile voyage

A replica of a 600 B.C. Phoenician ship has almost completed 20,000 miles and two years at sea.

The replica Phoenician ship, captained by British explorer Philip Beale, has completed the circumnavigation of Africa – a voyage made by Phoenicians in 600 BC. With up to 16 crew members on any one leg the replica vessel has welcomed sailors from all corners of the globe.

The voyage has presented Captain Beale and his international crew with many challenges including losing one of the ship’s rudders in the Red Sea, the threat of piracy off the Somali coast and gale force weather conditions around the Cape of Good Hope. At the end of the expedition the ship will have visited 14 countries – each time sparking interest in the achievements of ancient Phoenician mariners.

The successful completion of the voyage is of enormous significance to historians and archaeologists as it proves that the Phoenician vessels were capable of sailing around the African continent – something that has been the cause of much speculation over centuries.

The ship will complete its voyage  at Arwad, Syria, where it was built.

Phoenician Ship under sail in the North Atlantic. Courtesy Phoenicia Ship Expedition.

Phoenician Ship under sail in the North Atlantic. Courtesy Phoenicia Ship Expedition.

For more information read the short article in the Gibraltar Chronicle here. A web site about the expedition is available at Phoenicia.

The prophet Ezekiel foretold the fall of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. I suggest you read the entire account in Ezekiel 26-28. Notice especially these verses about the effect that the fall of Tyre had on other nations and merchants.

The ships of Tarshish traveled for you with your merchandise. So you were filled and heavily laden in the heart of the seas. “Your rowers have brought you out into the high seas. The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the seas. Your riches, your wares, your merchandise, your mariners and your pilots, your caulkers, your dealers in merchandise, and all your men of war who are in you, with all your crew that is in your midst, sink into the heart of the seas on the day of your fall.

At the sound of the cry of your pilots the countryside shakes, and down from their ships come all who handle the oar. The mariners and all the pilots of the sea stand on the land and shout aloud over you and cry out bitterly. They cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes; they make themselves bald for you and put sackcloth on their waist, and they weep over you in bitterness of soul, with bitter mourning. In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you and lament over you: ‘Who is like Tyre, like one destroyed in the midst of the sea? (Ezekiel 27:25-32 ESV)

For a larger image of the photo suitable for use in teaching click on the photo above.

HT: PaleoJudaica.

Still not using Logos Bible Software?

From time to time I am requested to spend some time with a younger preacher (intern/trainee). I always ask if he is using Logos Bible Software. But, I find many older preachers who seem to know nothing of the program. A little over a year ago I commented on buying Bible software here. I said,

Every young preacher should stop buying junk, ready-mixed pabulum, and get some real tools. Another advantage is that you will have no books to loan!

The thing that stirred me up today is the eNewsletter I received from Rejoice Christian Software. They are offering the Essential IVP Reference Collection 3.0 for $89.95 through October 23. They say this is a saving of 88% off the print list price.

The collection includes over 12,000 pages including…

  • Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
  • Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
  • Dictionary of the later NT and its Developments
  • Dictionary of New Testament Background
  • IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
  • IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
  • New Bible Dictionary (2nd ed.)
  • New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Ed.
  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • New Bible Atlas
  • New Dictionary of Biblical Theology
  • New Dictionary of Theology
  • And several other works.

Did I mention that you can buy the Thomas Nelson Bible Study Library for $29.95? I am not saying that any of these books are the best, but I am sure they will be useful.

If you look up the Essential IVP Reference Collection at Rejoice Christian Software it shows a retail price of $190, with their price being $115. The special this week is $89.95, but you must order here. You will probably pay $3 or $4 for shipping. Give up some frivolity for the next few weeks and get this set of books.

Did I mention that you can search the entire collection at one time?

CBS 60 Minutes to include feature on archaeology in Jerusalem

The promo for 60 Minutes, October 17, 2010, includes the following:

Lesley Stahl reports on an archeological dig in Jerusalem that is stirring up controversy.

This is likely a reference to the City of David excavations.

The watershed ridge — Part 2

Walking to the top of Bible Hill we continue to look north with St. Andrews Church before us. Looking over to the right you may see some of the building of the old city of Jerusalem.

Bible Hill, the water parting ridge, and St. Andrews. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bible Hill, the water parting ridge, and St. Andrews. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Next we take a look north east. The western side of the Old City wall is clearly visible. Jaffa Gate and the Citadel are can be seen near the middle of the wall. The tower of the Church of the Dormition is visible at the extreme right of the photo. The Valley of Hinnom lies between Bible Hill and the Old City.

View north east from Bible Hill. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View north east from Bible Hill. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As we look to the west we see the flat top of Bible Hill and some of the buildings of Jerusalem on the slope of the ridge.

View to the east from Bible Hill. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View to the east from Bible Hill. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The watershed ridge

Those who study Bible geography learn about the extension of the Lebanon Mountains that runs south through Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, the mountains of Samaria, and the mountains of Judea. Every mountain ridge has a right side and a left side. The ridge of the central mountain route in Israel provides the watershed to the east and the west.

St. Andrew’s (Scottish) Church sits on the watershed ridge in Jerusalem. When you travel from the west side of the old city of Jerusalem crossing the Hinnom Valley on the way south to Bethlehem and Hebron, you pass the watershed ridge and St. Andrew’s Church on your right. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center Museum and the Church sit up above the road and are lost to view as you watch the traffic.

This view, showing the east side of the watershed ridge, looks north to the Church.

The watershed ridge in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The watershed ridge in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

St. Andrew’s Church has an interesting history which is described briefly.

St Andrew’s Church, Jerusalem, was built as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who were killed fighting the Turkish Army during World War I, bringing to an end Ottoman rule over Palestine. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. (Wikipedia)

A cornerstone on the Church indicates that the stone was laid on May 7, 1927, by Field Marshal the Viscount Allenby in commemoration of the liberation of Jerusalem on December 9, 1917. We have a photo of the liberation here. Another plaque in the Church indicates that King Robert Bruce wished for his heart to be buried here.

Before his death Bruce required Sir James Douglas to carry his heart to Jerusalem, in redemption of his unfulfilled vow to visit the Holy City. Accordingly Sir James set out, bearing with him the embalmed heart. On his way he fell fighting the Moors in Spain. The heart was recovered and found its resting-place at Melrose, while the body rests at Dunfermline, Scotland. (Vilnay, Israel Guide 1978, 87)

The barren hill on which the Church is built is called Bible Hill.

Sign marking Bible Hill, the watershed ridge in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign marking Bible Hill, the watershed ridge in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This hill marks a portion of the boundary of the biblical tribe of Judah. Notice the reference to “the top of the mountain.”

Then the boundary goes up by the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the southern shoulder of the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem). And the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the Valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. (Joshua 15:8 ESV)

In another post we hope to show you more photos of the watershed ridge and the view on each side of it from this same location. Meanwhile, take a look at several photos of the Church, and a satellite view of the area at Bible Walks.