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April 20, 2012

CONTACT: Dorothy D. Resig
The Biblical Archaeology Society
Phone: 1.800-221-4644 ext. 242
Fax: 202-364-2636


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2012)—From the oldest Hebrew inscription and the establishment of Saul’s kingship to a mysterious Judean castle and a lawsuit against God—all that and more is featured in the May/June 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), now available on newsstands and on the Web.

Weighing in on a quartet of contenders for the oldest Hebrew inscription in “What’s the Oldest Hebrew Inscription?” noted epigrapher Christopher A. Rollston explains how he decides: Is the script really Hebrew? Is the language Hebrew? Should the inscription be read right-to-left like modern Hebrew or left-to-right? How old is it? Where did it come from? Readers may be surprised by his conclusions. One of the contenders is the recently discovered Qeiyafa Ostracon, which highly regarded French epigrapher Émile Puech interprets as referring to the institution of the Israelite monarchy, either David or, more probably, Saul. Author Gerard Leval reviews Puech’s analysis in “Ancient Inscription Refers to Birth of Israelite Monarchy.”

Next BAR goes across the Dead Sea to visit a mysterious monument in Jordan. Qasr al-Abd, or Castle of the Slave, is a Hellenistic-style ruin located amid lush fields in the Wadi as-Seer valley. Once the centerpiece of a grand second-century B.C.E. estate built by the Jewish Tobiad family, it is less certain why the Tobiads built this impressive structure. Was it a temple? A hunting lodge? A pleasure palace? A tomb? Based on the monument’s elaborate design, decoration and other evidence, author Stephen Rosenberg believes he has the answer, which he reveals in “‘Castle of the Slave’—Mystery Solved.”

Then a lawsuit involving an unlikely defendant. God tested the righteous Job by taking away his belongings, his servants, his children and his good health. Because Job could not think of any sin he had committed to deserve such punishment, he sued God and swore an oath of innocence. Would the deity feel compelled to respond to such a lawsuit? Edward L. Greenstein examines the evidence in “When Job Sued God.”

The fascinating discussions continue in our columns. BAR editor Hershel Shanks weighs the value of relics versus “real” archaeology in First Person. In Biblical Views, Ben Witherington III offers some “spirited” thoughts about God Language in the New Testament. Then, most scholars agree that early Israel was a tribal society, but what does that mean? As Jill Katz explains in Archaeological Views, just ask an anthropologist.

There’s even more to explore online at Bible History Daily, where there is comprehensive coverage of the forgery trial verdict as only BAS can tell it, a free guide to the best Bible translations, and a slide show of horned altars in ancient Israel and Philistia. Visitors can also access daily articles on key Biblical archaeology topics, the latest news, book reviews and dozens of free eBooks. The BAS Library features easy access to all footnoted articles in BAR Notables and new Special Collections each month.