New Perspectives on the Philistines by Aren Maeir

Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University) heads up the excavation team at Tell es-Safi (the site of ancient Gath). Not only is he one of the world’s leading experts on the ancient Philistines, he’s also a really nice guy, and a would-be pirate (just call him ARRRen).

Aren Maeir beside a Philistine altar excavated at Tell es-Safi (ancient Gath)

Aren recently presented a lecture at the College de France in Paris, in which he discussed the most recent archaeological evidence that has led us to update our understanding of Philistine origins, culture, and interactions with the Israelites. It’s fascinating stuff, and a must for those wanting to get up to speed with where research is currently at.

The lecture is in the clip below. Please also check out Aren’s blog on the excavations at Gath here:


Codex Vaticanus (B) Online

Great news! The Vatican Library has digitised Codex Vaticanus (also known by the siglum ‘B’). Vaticanus is one of the most important biblical manuscripts. It is an uncial manuscript that dates to the mid-fourth century and contains almost the entire Christian canon in Greek, including most of the Apocrypha.

The high quality digitised images of the whole codex can be found at the following URL:

This is a great resource for study of biblical texts. The Vatican Library and the University of Heidelberg, which also contributed to the project, are to be congratulated for bringing this project to fruition and making the resource freely available.

A page from Codex Vaticanus showing the end of 2 Thessalonians and the beginning of Hebrew.

Theological College and the New People of God

Over January I was privileged once more to teach at the summer school of George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve written a short blog piece for them titled Theological Education and the New People of God.

BeFunky_diversity-1.jpg-53029_213x213The new academic year is upon us. In my brief visit to GWC for the annual language Summer School, I’ve seen new students arrive, as well as old students and faculty return. One of the joys in this is seeing the diversity of people coming to the college. I’m reminded that when the gospel is preached, the Spirit draws people from all nations into Christ’s church to the glory of God the Father.

Click HERE to read the rest.

Papyrus Birminghamensis (at least that’s what I’m calling it)

George Athas:

A small papyrus amulet featuring a verse from Acts of the Apostles has been discovered in a collection of papyrii in Birmingham, England. First reports are that it derives from 4th century Egypt. The report below is from the University of Birmingham, taken from Jim West’s blog.

Originally posted on Zwinglius Redivivus:

Big news in the world of New Testament manuscript discoveries:

lincoln-blumell-Cropped-257x193A papyrus witness to the Greek New Testament has been discovered in the Cadbury Research Library of the University of Birmingham.

Following an initial visit last year, a team from Brigham Young University, headed byProfessor Thomas Wayment and Professor Lincoln Blumell, is visiting Birmingham this week to make an inventory of the uncatalogued papyrus fragments held by the University.

We are delighted to welcome them back to Birmingham, and on Tuesday morning they presented their findings at that point to staff and students at the ITSEE research seminar (pictured right). A number of the papyri originate from Oxyrhynchus, featuring references to towns and bishops in that area of Egypt.

On Tuesday afternoon, following the seminar, Lincoln contacted ITSEE to say that he had just identified a papyrus featuring text from the New Testament in the Birmingham collection…

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New Documents from Judean Exiles in Babylonia (572–477 BC)

A new publication has brought to light a collection of ancient documents from Judeans living in Babylonia from 572–477 BC. According to the news report by Haaretz

The collection consists mainly of administrative certificates – sales bonds, contracts and addresses, engraved in Akkadian Cuneiform script on clay tablets, some of which were fired in kilns.

Thanks to the Babylonian custom of inscribing each document with the date, according to the monarch’s years in power, the archaeologists could date the tablets to 572-477 B.C.E. The earliest tablet in the collection was written some 15 years after the First Temple’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean king of the neo-Babylonian era, who deported the Jews to Babylon. The latest was written some 60 years after the return of some of the exiles to Zion, which was enabled by Persia’s King Cyrus in 538 B.C.E.

Go HERE for the fuller story.

One of the clay tablets on display in the Bible Lands Museum exhibit. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi.

The publications:

  • Documents of Judean Exiles and West Semites in Babylonia in the Collection of David Sofer by Prof. Laurie Pearce (CDL Press)
  • By the Rivers of Babylon, by Wayne Horowitz, Yehoshua Greenberg and Peter Zilberg, (Bible Lands Museum and the Israel Exploration Society).

The Power of Satire

The recent tragedy of the murders at Charlie Hebdo in Paris have drawn attention to the battle between the pen and the sword.

Satire uses caricature, comedy, and sometimes caustic wit. This might lead some to think it is merely a form of entertainment—weak, but amusing, and certainly not worthy of those engaged in sober pursuits. But satire is a powerful weapon that can expose faults, flaws, and vulnerabilities. Anyone who thinks satire lacks a blade does not have a handle on the piercing power it possesses. It is often the weapon of choice for those who prefer peaceful resistance to armed struggle.

Even the ancients knew this.