March/April 2013 Issue of Biblical Archaeology Review Reveals Earliest Depictions of Crucifixion, Possible Location of Sodom
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2013)—Crucifixion was considered shameful in Jesus’ time, so, even though it was a defining moment in Christian history and theology, until about the late fourth century Christians refrained from depicting Jesus’ crucifixion—or so it was thought. As Larry W. Hurtado shows in “The Staurogram: Earliest Depiction of Jesus’ Crucifixion,” a depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion 200 years earlier has been identified in some ancient papyrus codices, consisting of a combination of two overlaid Greek letters.
Passover recalls the time when Israelite slaves escaped Egypt to move to the Promised Land, but there was a time when pharaohs dominated Canaan as well. Spurred by a BAR article, author Peter van der Veen went on a hunt for additional archaeological support of ancient Egypt’s dominance in Jerusalem. In “When Pharaohs Ruled Jerusalem,” van der Veen shares what he found. But it included nothing from the time King David captured the city. Was this why David was able to conquer Jerusalem?
Biblical writers knew their geography quite precisely and realistically. Contrary to a number of modern scholars who locate Sodom near the southern end of the Dead Sea, author Steven Collins locates it northeast of the Dead Sea, where he has been excavating the site of Tall el-Hammam for eight years. Whether the story of Sodom’s destruction is literally true or simply a traditional tale, the geography is real; the Biblical author is referring to an actual site. In “Where Is Sodom?” Collins makes the case for Tall el-Hammam.
Scholars have long known where the Biblical site of Megiddo is located, and it’s been the focus of excavations for several decades. Wet-sifting—the process of pouring soil through a sieve while spraying it with water”has proved its worth repeatedly by allowing the recovery of small finds from excavated soil. Why not try it on the 70-year-old excavation dumps at Megiddo? As BAR editor Hershel Shanks asks in “Wet-Sift the Megiddo Dumps!”
In his First Person, Hershel Shanks examines the scholarly divide over what to do with unprovenanced artifacts. Leonard Greenspoon explores popular uses of the Biblical reference to “the jawbone of an ass” in The Bible in the News. Ben Witherington III takes a closer look at early depictions of crucifixion in Biblical Views. And in Archaeological Views, Robert D. Miller gives us a glimpse of what life was like in Israel before the kings.
Much more is available online at Bible History Daily, where visitors can access daily articles on key Biblical archaeology topics, the latest news, book reviews and dozens of free eBooks, including Easter: Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus. Also featured is a series of behind-the-scenes photos from the Israel Museum’s new exhibit, Herod the Great—The King’s Final Journey.