Letter from the BAR Managing Editor
BAR September/October 2012
BAR Managing Editor
Dorothy D. Resig
As summer turns to fall, students and teachers are heading back to school to study math, writing and some of history’s most important figures. In the September/October 2012 issue of BAR, we start off with a pair of stories about one of the New Testament’s most important figures that you’ve probably been ignoring. According to the Synoptic Gospels, Herod Antipas had John the Baptist imprisoned and killed at the request of the beautiful Salome. The historian Josephus locates the event at the eastern citadel of Machaerus. The archaeological finds paint a clear picture of this magnificent site’s colorful but bloody history, as Gyozo Vörös relates in “Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded”—and we may know exactly where Antipas sat during Salome’s deadly dance. But who was Herod Antipas? This son and successor of Herod the Great ruled Galilee when Jesus lived, and he participated in the trial of Jesus. In “Antipas—The Herod Jesus Knew,” Morten Hørning Jensen examines what archaeology can tell us about this not-so-great Herod.
Turning to the palace of a much earlier king, we return to the controversial discovery of David’s palace by archaeologist Eilat Mazar with “Did Eilat Mazar Find David’s Palace?” Mazar’s excavation methods are beyond reproach, but her recent claim to have discovered King David’s palace at her Jerusalem dig site has met with harsh criticism from other scholars in the field. Here, Avraham Faust reviews the evidence to show why he agrees—and disagrees—with Mazar’s theory.
Speaking of controversy, here’s a debate that’s been going on for nearly 2,000 years. In the first century C.E., during the First Jewish Revolt, the Jewish historian Josephus urged his besieged countrymen in Jerusalem to surrender to the Romans. Half a millennium earlier, Jeremiah did the same thing with respect to the Babylonians. So what’s the difference? Avishai Margalit explains in “Josephus vs. Jeremiah: The Difference Between Historian and Prophet” why Josephus was called a traitor by his fellow Jews but Jeremiah was revered as a prophet.
Our columns continue discussions started in previous issues. In Biblical Views April DeConick responds to Ben Witherington III’s earlier contribution about gendered language in the Bible, while Kevin McGeough’s Archaeological Views column disagrees with Hershel Shanks’s take on the relationship between Bible and archaeology in a past First Person. In a special installment of Another View, Yosef Garfinkel, excavator of the Qeiyafa ostracon, questions “Christopher Rollston’s Methodology of Caution” about the earliest Hebrew inscription.
There’s even more to explore online at Bible History Daily, where you can access daily articles on key Biblical archaeology topics, the latest news, book reviews and dozens of free eBooks, including our new one Paul, Jewish Law and Early Christianity. We also have another response on our website to Christopher Rollston’s article, from Aaron Demsky. If you haven’t tried our digital issue, check it out here. Our BAS Library features easy access to all footnoted articles in BAR Notables and new Special Collections each month.
Want to share something you learned from this issue or contribute to the conversations? Let us hear from you.
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