Eric Cline, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

On February 25, 2015, Professor Eric Cline (The George Washington University) delivered a lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, on the collapse of civilization at the end of the Late Bronze Age. The lecture was on the same subject as his recent book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2014).

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end.
Lecture by Eric Cline on “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

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Professor Cline also delivered a similar lecture to the National Capital Area Skeptics, on October 8, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland:

 

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The Historical Reliability of the Bible – Francesca Stavrakopoulou

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On January 17, 2017, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou (University of Exeter) was interviewed by Dan Snow (BBC) on the History Hit podcast. The topic is “The Historical Reliability of the Bible“, and Professor Stavrakopoulou provides a summary of mainstream scholarship on the historicity of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.

The interview is available in mp3 audio format (28:56).

Peter Flint on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

The late African biblical scholar Dr. Peter Flint delivers a lecture introducing the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance for understanding the New Testament, on January 16, 2012 at El Shaddai Ministries, Tacoma, WA.

Jacob Neusner on Modern Judaism (and Ancient Judaism)

Jacob Neusner (July 28, 1932 – October 8, 2016) delivers a talk on Modern Judaism, in which he claims that it is “not unique”, and in fact repeats changes which occurred from the 7th to the 3rd centuries BCE. The talk was delivered on March 16, 1974, at Temple Beth Sholom, Montreal, and is entitled, “A New Interpretation of the Modern Period in the History of Judaism”.

The talk is available in four parts:

  1. Some music
  2. Introduction (Rabbi Mark Golub), Jacob Neusner from 5:12
  3. Jacob Neusner, cont.
  4. Conclusion

Re-Imagining the Scriptural Past in the Dead Sea Scrolls: TWU Dead Sea Scrolls Institute

On February 23, 2016, the Trinity Western University (TWU) Dead Sea Scrolls Institute hosted a series of talks on the Dead Sea Scrolls, “Re-Imagining the Scriptural Past in the Dead Sea Scrolls”.

The Dead Sea Scrolls provide fresh perspective on both the words of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and ancient Jewish world of the New Testament. As the library of a specialized Jewish scribal community, they also reveal how ancient people and communities rendered their religious traditions relevant to their own culture. Many readers of the Bible today face this same task: scripture is at once ancient and sacred, yet its contemporary relevance is not always evident. Through presentations and discussions with four TWU alumni and authors of recently published books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, our evening will explore how the group that penned and preserved the scrolls navigated this dynamic in their own search for meaning. Join authors Dr. Andrew Perrin, Dr. Kipp Davis, Dr. Marvin Miller, Dr. Dongshin Chang, and Dr. Peter Flint as they detail how ancient writers encountered and innovated the biblical past by extending prophecy, claiming revelatory dreams, rethinking covenant theology, and crafting and circulating letters.

Dr. Peter Flint – The Dead Sea Scrolls: What Can They Teach Us?

Dr. Peter Flint (Canada Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Studies at Trinity Western University) provides a fresh introduction to the Qumran texts and archaeology in light of his recently published book “The Dead Sea Scrolls” (Abingdon, 2013).

Dr. Andrew Perrin – History Revealed: The Eras of Empires in Daniel and Beyond

Dr. Andrew Perrin (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Trinity Western University) explores the rewriting of apocalyptic history in the book of Daniel and ancient Judaism in light of his recently published book “The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls” (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).

Dr. Kipp Davis – Forging Reputations of National Icons: Chuck Norris and the Prophet Jeremiah

Dr. Kipp Davis (Scholar in Residence at Trinity Western University) details the cultural and literary development of famed figures today and in antiquity, with an eye to the prophet Jeremiah’s life beyond the Bible. A detailed treatment of the Jeremiah traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls may be found in his recently published book “The Cave 4 Apocryphon of Jeremiah and the Qumran Jeremianic Traditions: Prophetic Persona and the Construction of Community Identity” (Brill, 2014).

Christopher Hays on the Divine Suckling

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Professor Christopher B. Hays (Fuller Theological Seminary) delivered a lecture at the College de France, on April 15, 2016, entitled, “Imagery of Divine Suckling in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East“.

The video may be downloaded or watched online in mp4 format.

Ron Hendel: “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”

Professor Ron Hendel (University of California at Berkeley) delivered a lecture at the Arizona Centre for Judaic Centre on March 9, 2015, on the subject of “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”.

The Exodus is a central event in biblical and Jewish memory. But according to the archaeological and historical record, it is unclear what it is a memory of.  I propose that it is, in part, a transformed memory of the demise of the Egyptian Empire in Canaan, which facilitated the emergence of Israel as an independent people.  The story served as an engine of a distinctive cultural identity, a function that it continues to perform today.

The lecture begins at 5:30.

A version of the lecture was published in Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, edited by Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, and William H.C. Propp (Springer, 2015).

Richard Dawkins converses with John Huddlestun about the Non-Historicity of the Old Testament

Zoologist Dr Richard Dawkins (New College, Oxford) converses with Professor John Huddlestun (College of Charleston) about the non-historicity of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Representing gods and men in the ancient Near East and in the Bible

Representing Gods and Men

The Collège de France hosts the videos of papers delivered at the 2015 Seminar in Thomas Römer’s series The Hebrew Bible and Its Contexts, May 5-6, 2015:

Representing gods and men in the ancient Near East and in the Bible (Représenter dieux et hommes dans le Proche-Orient ancien et dans la Bible)

The videos are available for download in *.mov format.

La question des images est un élément central pour l’intelligence des religions anciennes et modernes. Les religions monothéistes se basent toutes sur le Décalogue qui interdit la fabrication des images. Mais comment comprendre cet interdit : s’agit-il d’un refus de toutes sortes d’images ou « seulement » de la représentation du divin ? Et quelle est la raison d’être d’un tel interdit ? Pourquoi considère-t-on illégitime de représenter des dieux et des hommes, ce qui fut pratique courante dans le Proche-Orient ancien ? Le colloque s’efforcera d’apporter des éclaircissements sur plusieurs questions : Quelle est la fonction des représentations du divin mais aussi des hommes ? Quelles sont les différentes manières de représenter des dieux  et quelle est la fonction de ces représentations ? Les représentations permettent-elles de mieux comprendre les cultes officiels et les cultes privés ? Quel est le rôle des images dans le culte royal ? Le roi est-il l’image des dieux ? Y a-t-il des religions aniconiques ? Pour quelles raisons décide-t-on d’interdire des images ? Y a-t-il des précurseurs au commandement biblique dans le Proche-Orient ou ailleurs ?

The question of images is a central element in the understanding of ancient and modern religions. The monotheistic religions are all based on the Decalogue, which prohibits the making of images. But how should we understand this prohibition: is it a rejection of all kinds of images or “only” of the representation of the divine? And what is the purpose of such a prohibition? Why it is considered improper to represent gods and men, which was common practice in the ancient Near East? The symposium will seek to clarify several questions: What is the function of the representations of the divine and also of men? What are the different ways of representing the gods and what is the function of these representations? Do the representations provide insight into official and private worship? What is the role of images in the royal cult? Is the king the image of the gods? Are there any aniconic religions? For what reasons does one decide to prohibit images? Are there any precursors to the biblical commandment in the ancient Near East or elsewhere?

Mardi 5 mai 2015

9 h 30 Introduction to the Symposium (Ouverture du colloque): Thomas Römer

Pause

Présidence : Thomas Römer

13h00 Discussion

Déjeuner

Présidence : Michaël Guichard

Pause

Présidence : Christophe Nihan

17h45 Discussion

Mercredi 6 mai 2015

Présidence : Nele Ziegler

Pause

Présidence : Dominique Charpin

12h45 Discussion

Déjeuner

Présidence : Jean-Marie Durand

Pause

16h45 Discussion et clôture du colloque

The Book of Exodus: Myths and Stories – Thomas Römer’s 2014-2015 Seminars at the Collège de France

Videos of Professor Thomas Römer’s 2014 and 2015 seminars at the Collège de France, entitled The Book of Exodus: Myths and Stories, are available at the Collège’s website, or for download at the links provided below (800mb+). The seminars have been overdubbed by an English translator.

His lectures cover similar material to that in his book, Moïse en version originale (Bayard, 2015).

Thomas Römer is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Collège de France, and author of many works, including Israels Väter (1990), on the Patriarchal traditions in the Pentateuch, and The So-called Deuteronomistic History (2007), on the unity and disunity in the books of Deuteronomy to Kings.

20 FEBRUARY 2014, 2:00 pm
Introduction: Between Autocthony and Allochthony – the Invention of the Exodus

27 FEBRUARY 2014, 2:00 pm
The Oppression in Egypt

06 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
Pharaoh’s Midwives: The Birth of Moses, an Imported Legend

13 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
The Birth of Moses (continuation). Moses and the Midianites (Part I)

20 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
Moses and the Midianites (Part II)

27 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
From the Divine Name to the Attack of Moses. Preparations of the Narrative of the Plagues

03 APRIL 2014, 2:00 pm
A Competition of Magicians ? The « Plagues » of Egypt

10 APRIL 2014, 2:00 pm
The Institution of the Passover and the Passage of the Sea. The Historicization of a Myth

26 FEBRUARY 2015, 2:00 pm
Going out of Egypt: Building a Mythical Story

05 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
The Song of Myriam and Moses and the First Sojourn in the Desert: The “Law Before the Law”, Manna and Nostalgic Longings for Egypt (Exodus 15-17)

12 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
Exodus 16: The Discovery of Manna and the Sabbath

19 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
Massa and Meribah, the War Against Amalek and the Encounter on the Mountain of God (Exodus 17-18)

26 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
From the Mountain of God to Sinaï (Exodus 18-19)

02 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
Theophany, Covenant and Decalogue

09 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
The Decalogue and the Covenant Code

16 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
The Covenant Code, Breaking and Restoring the Covenant (Exodus 21-40)

Lee Levine: The Revolutionary Effects Of Archaeology On The Study Of Jewish History

Professor Lee Levine (Hebrew University) delivered a talk on “The Revolutionary Effects Of Archaeology On The Study Of Jewish History“. The lecture was part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted July 6, 2004.

Levine discusses Herod in Judea and the Dura-Europos synagogue in Syria.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

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Aren Maeir on Media Fantasy and Biblical Archeology

Professor Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University) delivered a talk entitled “Media Fantasy & Biblical Archeology: Must Everything Be Interpreted As A “Da Vinci Code?” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted November 14,  2007. The talk examines media exaggerations and archaeological forgeries in biblical archaeology. The talk is available in m4a audio format:

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A very interesting character by the name of Simcha Jacobovici claims that a bunch of ossuaries were found in the tomb…. They had names such as Jacob, and Joseph, and Jesus, and Miriam, and from this, this group of scholars which included Jacobovici and James Cameron from The Titanic carried out this enormous hullaballoo, as they say, claiming that since you have these names, this is the tomb of the family of Jesus. Now, all of this is very nice, except that those names, which we know from the New Testament as being the names of Jesus’ family, were extremely common in Jerusalem during that period. So if we were to find a tomb nowadays in the Jewish cemetery and there was a David, a Solomon, a Bathsheba, and Ruth, we would hardly say that that’s David’s family. It’s just that those are common names…. [Jacobovici] connects the dots in places the dots should not be connected…. If you take a story and either you don’t know it or you hide from the viewers all the little details which make the connecting of the lines difficult, then you can do it. And that’s exactly what [Jacobovici] does a lot.

Modern Biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief – James Kugel

Professor James Kugel (Harvard University) delivered one of the papers at the 2013 Limmud Conference, “Modern Biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief”.

Did Moses really write the Torah? Is there any archaeological evidence that the Exodus took place? Did the Israelites really conquer Canaan and settle there? Most biblical scholars in universities tend to answer all these questions with a ‘No.’ What then is a religious Jew to make of all this? A different way of approaching the question.

Did God Have a Wife? William Dever on Mrs God

Professor William G. Dever (Lycoming College; University of Arizona) presented the 2014 Tenenbaum Lecture on February 3, 2014 at Emory University.

His illustrated lecture showcases recent archaeological evidence that reveals the differences in beliefs and practices of ordinary people in ancient Israel compared to the elitist, idealist portrait in the Bible, particularly the ongoing veneration of the Canaanite Goddess Asherah.

The lecture begins at 16:05.

Reclaiming Jewish History – Colloquium 1997, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

The 1997 Colloquium for the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ) included a number of presentations on the Hebrew Bible and early Judaism. These are now available on YouTube:

Carol Meyers, “Origins of Ancient Israel”

Panel response to Carol Meyers

William Propp, “Origins of the Bible”

Panel response to William Propp

Eric Meyers, “From the Maccabees to the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Panel response to Eric Meyers

Ari Elon, “Origins of the Halakha”

Panel response to Ari Elon