Category Archives: Books

Resources for days you must be inside

Some folks on social media are writing about being bored because of staying in during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not so with me. I love being in my study, but I do have limited time to do so due to other family considerations.

Yesterday we participated in some church streaming sites. Enjoyed all of Leon Mauldin’s lesson on YouTube from the Hanceville Church of Christ.

Also enjoyed the first of two lessons by Dr. Charles Savelle on Mark 15 under the title But Sunday’s Coming here.

Also enjoyed watching some of Searching for a King from AppianMedia.org. Enjoyed the interview with Dr. Scott Stripling at Shiloh and seeing Barry Britnell and Jeremy DeHut at work. This material may be available to you on Amazon Prime.

The brook of Elah during the dry season. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

I got separated from Elizabeth while exploring the brook of Elah during the dry season in August 2008, but we came up with a plan and have been back together ever since. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We also watched the lesson by Dr. Carl Rasmussen dealing with the United and Divided Kingdom periods in the Encountering the Holy Land series of videos. This morning a newsletter from Carl says that the complete set of these videos are available for 50% off through April 3rd. To access the DVD check Zondervan. To access the streaming resource see here. Atlases are also on sale at Zondervan. If you would like to sign up for Carl’s Holy Land Photos newsletter go here. The deep discount did not show on Amazon when I checked.

We have recently mentioned on Facebook that Dr. Wayne Stiles is offering three videos on The Week That Changed the World free of charge. Go to the Walking the Bible Lands web site here.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #37 – Now and Then at Capernaum

In 2015 we posted here about some changes that we noticed when we visited Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. These changes were more like refurbishing the site to make it easier and more pleasant to visit.

Today we will show you a significant change brought about by a new building. Having visited Capernaum many times since 1967 I have been able to see many changes. This church that some have described as looking like a space craft is built over the excavation of a Byzantine church that covered some of the first century houses. One of these house is said to have been designated as a place for Christians to meet. The Franciscans who own the property have designated this as the house of Peter. We know from Scripture that Peter lived here with his wife and mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14).

Capernaum was located on the frontier between the territory of Herod Antipas and that of Herod Philip. The city became important in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Notice just a few events that make it so significant.

  • Jesus settled here, making Capernaum His “own city” (Mark 1:232-34).
  • Many of the miracles of Jesus were performed here (Mark 1:21-28).
  • Matthew worked as a tax collector at Capernaum (Matthew 9:9).
  • Peter lived here (Matthew 8:14).

Capernaum was one of three cities of the area denounced by Jesus  on account of their failure to believe (Matthew 11:20-22 ESV).

If you visit Capernaum you will see the building pictured below that some have described as looking like a space craft. It was built about 1990. The entrance with steps leading up to the glass floor is on the west side of the building (to our left). Our photo shows the south side; we have our back to the Sea of Galilee. The building is located 84 feet south of the synagogue (*Strange).

Capernaum. The modern church erected in 1990 by the Franciscians. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This modern building was erected in 1990. It covers the excavated ruins of the octagonal Byzantine church and what some have said is the house of the apostle Peter. This view is to the north, with the Sea of Galilee to my back.The entrance steps are on the left, and the synagogue is on the other side of this building. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

James F. Strange says,

Friar Orfali had done some work on the octagonal building in the 1920s. His plan showed the building as consisting of three concentric octagons.

When the excavations were renewed by Corbo and Loffreda in 1968 they discovered a baptistry and an apse providing evidence that this was indeed an ancient church (Strange).

Strange says,

It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that this octagonal church at Capernaum was a memorial church. Some scholars believed that the octagonal church was built to memorialize Jesus’s temporary residence in Capernaum and may well have been connected with ancient memories or traditions regarding the location of St. Peter’s house, also called “the house of Simon and Andrew” in Mark 1:29.

Below is today’s Favorite Foto that I made in 1978. The floor of the new “memorial church” has a glass floor so that one can look below at the ancient structure. It is now difficult to make photos with ordinary photographic equipment because of the glare from the glass. Visitors to the site may also walk under the new church, but it is difficult to make sense of what is there.

Capernaum. The octagonal Byzantine church which is said to cover the house of the apostle Peter. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This is the way the excavated area of Capernaum looked in 1978. We see ruins of the octagonal Byzantine church which is said to have been built over the house of the apostle Peter. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Strange says, “According to the excavators, the central hall of this church was originally built as part of a house about the beginning of the Early Roman period, around 63 B.C.”

I will leave it to you to investigate more about this structure and the possibility that Jesus visited this home during His personal ministry in Capernaum.

* Source: When you see the name *Strange in one of my comments it indicates that the information was quoted directly or gleaned from the following source:

Strange, James F., and Hershel Shanks. “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?” Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 8, no. 6, Oct. 1982. Biblical Archaeology Review. BAR.

If you are interested in a recent scholarly essay on the excavations at Capernaum see he following:

Mattila, Sharon L. Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods. Vol. 2, edited by David A. Fiensy and James R. Strange, First ed., Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2015, 2 vols, pp. 217-57.

Special Note about the Fiensy-Strange Volumes: The two volumes by David A. Fiensy and James R. Strange, Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods…, are currently available in Kindle Format as follows: Vol. 1, 352 pages, for $4.99 (pb is $50.33). Vol. 2, 502 pages, for $6.99 (pb is $26.00). James R. Strange is the son of the late James F. Strange quoted in my post. I am pleased with the quality of the diagram and photos display.

Important book; good price

Last evening I learned that Peter J. Williams’ new book, Can We Trust the Gospels?, will be available in Amazon Kindle format from today to May 4 for $3.99. The paperback book is about $14.00.

Williams is Principal of Tyndale House, Cambridge. Many of our readers will be familiar with Tyndale House and their work. For those who are not familiar here is a description:

Tyndale House is a dynamic academic hub that specialises in the languages, history and cultural context of the Bible. We bring together outstanding Christian researchers from around the world with the aim of developing Bible literacy in the Church and beyond. We want to enable all those who read the Bible to understand and appreciate it more.

Just a few days ago I received a copy of William’s book in Logos format. Already knowing of Williams work in this field, I am impressed with the book.

Williams is Principal of Tyndale House, Cambridge.

Your young people need a copy of this book, too.

Dr. Jack P. Lewis — 1919 – 2018

We note the death of Dr. Jack Pearl Lewis earlier this week on July 24th. The name Jack Pearl Lewis will be unknown to many readers of this blog. Others will recognize his name and his work. I write here because he was an outstanding biblical scholar who played a part in my travel experiences.

Lewis was a founding faculty member at the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, now known as Harding School of Theology. At the time of his retirement he was named Professor Emeritus. Among several good teachers that I had, Lewis was unique. He held two earned doctorates, a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Hebrew Union. He was the most demanding teacher I had, and one of a few from whom I learned the most.

After the high school years at Athens Bible School, and four years of Bible at Florida Christian College (now Florida College), with teachers such as Homer Hailey and Franklin T. Puckett, I had a good general knowledge of the Bible. I think I had about 60 hours of Bible at FCC. I had added about seven years in full-time preaching before attending the Graduate School. The graduate work was not too difficult, it was just on a more demanding advanced level. Dr. Lewis was always available to talk with if you could locate him among all of the books in his office.

It was part of the graduate program generally, but Lewis taught the importance of using primary sources where possible and the importance of thorough preparation. He entered the class room, called the roll, and began lecturing. As a student I made notes the best I could, then spent hours after each class verifying the names, dates, and facts presented. Different from the students I had in college, we would never imagine asking “How do you spell that?” He taught us the importance of using up-to-date sources in our research.

Jack Lewis was my first teacher who had spent a considerable amount of time studying the land of the Bible. He had worked in the archaeological excavation at Arad, and had spent a year as a fellow at the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (now the Albright Institute).

In one of the classes with Dr. Lewis I did a paper on “Authentic First Century Remains in Palestine.” Soon afterward I began to prepare for my own visit to the Bible lands. I might have gone anyway, but I must credit Dr. Lewis, and his unique insight into the land of the Bible, for spurring my interest in traveling to this part of the world. The last time I visited with him was March 6, 2008, at Faulkner University where he made a couple of presentations and was honored for his work. As we visited, he said something like this: “There is nothing as valuable as seeing the places you study about.” So, now you know one of the major motivations in my travels to Bible lands over all these years since the first trip in 1967. I still learn on every trip, and in the preparation for the trip.

Dr. Lewis was a prolific writer. His many books included The History of the English Bible from the KJV to the NIV, The Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature, Historical Backgrounds to Bible People, and a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. There are also books on the prophets and other areas of biblical studies.

One of the lectures given by Dr. Lewis at Faulkner University was on “The Battle for the Integrity of the Bible.” In his typical rapid-fire manner, he surveyed the battles that have been won in demonstrating the integrity of the Bible. It was just a survey, but he seemed as sharp as in those classes on The History of the English Bible and on Archaeology and the Bible from which I profited so much.

Dr. Jack P. Lewis and Ferrell Jenkins. FerrellJenkins.blog.

This photo was made March 6, 2008, after the lecture on “The Battle for the Integrity of the Bible” at Faulkner University. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

If you would like to learn a little about the background of this unique man we suggest his 2012 autobiography, As I Remember It.

I wrote some of this material back in 2008 after the visit with Dr. Lewis. When our mutual friend, Don Meredith, the librarian at HST, saw it he printed it for Dr. Lewis. Here is the response I received from Dr.Lewis:

I appreciate very much the kind things you had to say.  I am trying to get finished the work on the twelve prophets I started more than twenty years ago.  I am a great one at starting, but less successful in finishing. I will look forward to seeing you in Boston in November  [at the annual professional meetings].  Sincerely, Jack P. Lewis.

The Arabah (introduction)

Recently I was doing some reading in the late Denis Baly’s Geographical Companion to the Bible (1963) and decided to share his description of the Arabah (Arava in Israel).

The southern section of the Rift Valley is normally known as the Arabah, and it is, to the surprise of many people, almost as long as the section of the valley between the south end of the Dead Sea and the Lake of Galilee. A north-east-south-west upfold running across it raises the central part of the Arabah to 1,000 feet above sea-level, and then it sinks southwards again towards the Red Sea. Everywhere it is desert, save where occasional springs provide a welcome supply of water. However, historically it has had a double importance: as a trade route to the Red Sea and as a source of cooper. This is found in the dark-red Nubian sandstone which outcrops particularly on the eastern, or Edomite, side of the rift. The most important of these copper mines was at Punon (the modern Feinan), almost certainly the place where Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness (Num. 21:4-10; 33:42-43). On the western side the copper-bearing rock outcrops only in the extreme south, and is being mined today at Timna, where also it was obtained in ancient times. This is the place known to the modern tourist as “King Solomon’s Mines” (Deut. 8:9). (p. 57).

I propose in a series of posts to discuss briefly Lot’s Wife, views of the Arabah, the excavations at Tamar, Keturah, Timnah, and Eilat.

A short distance south of the southern end of the Dead Sea is a formation called Lot’s wife. While there is no historical reality to the formation being Lot’s wife it is an interesting natural formation that promotes the memory of Lot and his family. In the biblical description of the overthrow of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah we are told,

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26 ESV)

Lot's Wife, a natural formation south of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lot’s Wife, a natural formation south of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lot’s wife stands as a perfect illustration of those who turn back from doing the will of the Lord. Even Jesus called attention to this Old Testament event.

Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32 ESV)

In the next post we plan to show you some of the arid terrain as we continue south in the Arabah.

Sadly, I see that neither Logos nor Accordance have Denis Baly’s The Geography of the Bible or The Geographical Companion of the Bible available.

Some recommended resources

Sale Deadline on The Book of Ruth collection

If you received the BiblePlaces Newsletter for April  a few days ago you already know about the new volume in the Photo Companion of the Bible series. This one is on The Book of Ruth. I received a complimentary advance copy and found some of this material to be helpful on the recent study trip to Jordan. I am confident that anyone studying or teaching the book of Ruth will find the material helpful. You can download the recent BiblePlaces Newsletter filled with much helpful information here.

Available through April 22 for $20.

There are 350 images in PowerPoint to illustrate the four chapters of the Book of Ruth. The collection is on sale until midnight April 22 for $20. Bolen says, “Shipping is free in the US and satisfaction is guaranteed.” Go here for ordering information. Take a look at the four volume set on the Gospels.

Appian Media Producing New Series

Our friends at Appian Media have already produced a wonderful set of high-quality videos entitled Following the Messiah. They will soon be returning to Israel to film a new series dealing what many of us call the Biblical period of the United Kingdom. The series will be called Searching for a King.

Appian Media Searching for a King

Filming for this series begins very soon.

Appian Media provides membership access to their material, and they are seeking donations to assist in the work. See details here. Some videos are available for viewing on the website.

A New Video on Lachish

Lachish: The Epic Unearthed, a 48 minute video about the history and excavations of the biblical city of Lachish has been produced by Dr. Robert Henry and Rachel Martin. Henry summarizes the film:

This documentary brings you into the exciting world of Biblical Archaeology as it reveals the history of one of the largest Old Testament cities and tells the story of the volunteers who dig it up. This epic story reveals the turbulent warfare of the first temple period of Biblical history, the discoveries that expand the Biblical narrative and the impact this experience had on the people who came to Israel to dig. Watch as these determined volunteers unearth a Biblical land mark that hasn’t been touched in over two thousand five hundred years.

The video features comments by Prof. Yosef Garfinkle and Prof. Michael Hasel, directors of the fourth excavation at Lachish, as well as interviews with some of those working on the dig including my friend Luke Chandler.

Some viewers will be unfamiliar with the pronunciation of such sites as Lachish and Azekah. Instead of Lake-ish and ah-ZECK-ah, you will hear LAH-KISH and AZ-e-kah, pronunciations more common in Israel.

I am thankful to have provided a few of my aerial photographs for the video. Henry and Martin encourage you to use this video in your teaching and for personal study free of charge.

Walking the Bible Lands with Dr. Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles, whose web site we have mentioned several times, is now developing a video series called Walking the Bible Lands. This is old hat for Wayne who had been traveling to the Bible lands, teaching and writing about them for many years.

Wayne’s new material is available on a membership arrangement. Detailed information is available at his Walking the Bible Lands website here. You will find some samples there.

New books from Carta Jerusalem – # 2

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice-Told Tale. This hardback book of 284 (6½” x 9½”) pages is written by Abba Bendavid, with an introduction by Mordechai Cogan. ($64). Cogan says,

It is well-known that readers of the Bible generally skip over the Book of Chronicles [1-2 Chronicles], the last book of the Hebrew Bible [chronologically]. All too often Chronicles is seen as merely a recap and summary of the historical books that preceded it….

This book includes an index to biblical citations. It will be extremely helpful to those studying Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology (A Carta Touring Map) $14.95. Carta Jerusalem describes this folding map:

 The first major comprehensive map of  archaeological sites in the Holy Land, together with over a dozen annotated historical vignette maps of major sites and events throughout the land that provide an insightful overview of all archaeological sites related to the Bible and later historical periods.

This 24 × 35½ in. map folds to 5¼×9¼ in. For those interested in locating archaeological sites this can be a very helpful resource. On the back side of the map there are numerous smaller maps and diagrams helpful in study and travel. My preference would be to have this material in spiral bound atlas format, but I expect to use the map in planning and during my next personal study trip.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns by Ami Tamir is a new book published this year. The Introduction explains,

This book tells the stories of fifty plants connected to Christian tradition which can be found, in season, by the Christian pilgrim visiting the land of Israel. Illustrations that enable the pilgrim to identify the less-recognizable plants are included, and encourage the study of the rich botanical variety he/she will find on footpaths between pilgrimage sites, churches and archaeological remains.

“The encounter with the plants brings to life the wondrous tales of the Holy Family: here they acquire a deeper religious significance. That is the magic secret: to touch the matter, the rocks, the clumps of earth, and the flowers growing on them.” (From the Introduction)

Sacred Flowers Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

My personal interests are not as much attuned to the traditions and legends that have grown up around certain plants, but more to the various plants and thorns mentioned in the Bible. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful little book and one that many visitors to Israel will find helpful.

This 8″ x 5½” paperback book of 176 pages belongs to the Carta Guide Book series. It is lavishly illustrated and sells for $25.00.

Check the Carta online catalog to learn more about each book. The books also are available from Hendrickson, Amazon, and some other publishers. The books mentioned here were sent to me by Carta Jerusalem, but the comments are my own opinion.