The Alamo and the "Masada Complex"

Prof. Lester L. Grabbe of the University of Hull has written a fascinating piece on cultural memory that juxtaposes the Alamo with Masada in Israel. In this article he takes a look at how two "last stands" were remembered and what sort of symbols they've become. It's not every day that biblical studies and San Antonio (where I live) history come together. Read "History and the Nature of Cultural Memory: The Alamo and the 'Masada Complex'".

New to AJR: Book Note on Magness' The Archaeology of the Holy Land

This morning my "book note" went live on Ancient Jew Review. Here is the first paragraph:

In 2012 Jodi Magness (the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) published The Archaeology of the Holy Land. It shouldn’t take very long for the reader to recognize that a career’s worth of knowledge has been condensed and organized into this outstanding textbook—she had wanted to write this book for “more than twenty years” (p. xii). Like a good wine, we ought to be grateful that the author waited to serve this information to us. The work is extensive, covering as much information as possible, yet it is organized as to be accessible, providing the reader with succinctly written sections. Students will benefit from the breadth of data provided. Instructors can be confident that their pupils are getting a more than adequate introduction to the subject. In fact, anyone who is interested in the topics this book discusses will benefit from reading it.

You can read the full thing here.

Logos Mobile Ed's Archaeology in Action Course

If you're interested in how archaeology relates to the study of the Bible then I'd like to recommend a new course being created by Logos Mobile Ed. It is titled "Archaeology in Action". My friend Greg Monette is an associate producer and my doctoral supervisor Craig A. Evans is the "talking head" guide. This course features a wide-array of world class archaeologists such as Jodi Magness, James F. Strange, James R. Strange, Mordechai Aviam, and many more. You can learn more about the course here.

Adams' Social and Economic Life in Second Temple Judea

I wrote a short review of Samuel L. Adams' Social and Economic Life in Second Temple Judea (Louisville: WJKP, 2014) for Review and Expositor. Presuming the editors find it useable, it should be available this year. I'm allowed to share a first draft on this blog, but I think readers of blogs are savvy enough to learn about the content of a book so that I won't need to reduplicate that part here. Instead, I'll share my first and last paragraphs:

Samuel L. Adams (Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary) has authored a tidy, concise survey of “the socioeconomic landscape of Judah/Judea in the Second Temple period, from the end of the Babylonian exile to the destruction of the temple by the Romans (532 BCE to 70 CE)” (p. 2). This book is intended for those who desire a better understanding of the milieu of formative Judaism and Christianity. In it the author investigates a wide-array of topics related to the day-to-day life of the average Judean such as marriage and divorce, raising children, work, debt, taxation, and the ethics of how one acquires and uses wealth, to name a few.

And the last one: 

This work can serve as a textbook at the college or seminary level, especially if the course intends to investigate the “big picture” of the socioeconomic world of Judah/Judea during the Second Temple era. Yet it shouldn’t be limited to students. Preachers will benefit from knowing this information as a background to the texts they proclaim. More specifically, anyone who desires more depth to his or her reading of the Bible will glean from this book. It is one of those rare works that can inform both the expert and the novice in that it is thoroughly researched and documented with straightforward argumentation, yet clear enough to understand for those who may worry that they won’t be familiar with the insider’s jargon.

Two Relevant Articles for Students of Formative Christianity

I'd like to highlight two articles that are relevant for students of formative Christianity:

(1) One thing I learned in Israel this summer: we must be cautious when using the word "peasant" to describe first-century Galileans, especially Jesus and his disciples. The archaeological record brings that designation into question. Sharon Lea Mattila's "Toward an Alternative View of Village Life in Greco-Roman Palestine and Egypt" for the ASOR Blog. 

(2) As is well-known, the role of social memory theory in the study of formative Christianity, especially the historian's Jesus, has been a hot topic for a few years now. Over on The Jesus Blog Anthony Le Donne has posted comments that he made on the stability of memory as it relates to eyewitnesses along with those by Richard Bauckham and Chris Keith: Richard Bauckham Responds.

Shikhin Excavations with James R. Strange (Interview)

Last month I had the opportunity to visit several archaeological excavation sites in Israel. One of the most memorable was that of Shikhin. My traveling companions and I awoke before sunrise in order to reach Shikhin from Tiberias at sunrise. We may have gotten lost once or twice navigating the back roads, but eventually we made it without too much trouble. When we arrived, the group of hard-working volunteers were well on their way, kicking up dust, moving loads of dirt, sifting the soil, collecting any important artifacts that surfaced, and documenting each step of the process. One of the artifacts that we witnessed coming straight out of the earth was an oil lamp—an item which is significant to understanding Shikhin as will be explained in this interview.

Read the full interview here.

In the Mail: Adam's Social and Economic Life in Second Temple Judea

While I was abroad I received Samuel L. Adam's Social and Economic Life in Second Temple Judea in order to review it for Review and ExpositorHere is the blurb:

This book looks at the socioeconomic landscape of Second Temple Judea (532 BCE - 70 CE) with close attention to the daily life of ordinary people. Adams uses the Hebrew Bible and other historical resources to examine work and economic exchange, marriage and the complexities of family life—including the roles of women and children—and the burdensome taxation policies under imperial Rome. He culminates with a rich analysis of the ethics of wealth and poverty found in various texts, including the Hebrew Bible, pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Q, and the New Testament. This study of socioeconomic and theological issues provides students with a helpful context for understanding religious beliefs and practices in the time of early Judaism and emerging Christianity.

Once the review has been made available I'll announce it here.