The Writing on the Wall?

Siloam InscriptionThe claim of a controversial expert to have deciphered an ancient inscription is met with doubt

You cannot imagine how thrilled I was when I saw the headline “Proof of Biblical Kings of Israel, Judah Deciphered on Jerusalem Rock Inscriptions.” The subtitle read, “Detailed Inscriptions of Eighth-Century BCE Judean King Hezekiah Discovered in Monumental Archaeological Discovery.”

But as I began to read the article, academic skepticism began to deflate my elation. I immediately noted that this announcement wasn’t one of the usual “good news for every holiday” pieces from the Israel Antiquities Authority. Instead, it originated with a University of Haifa professor who had previously been associated with sensational but highly questionable readings of ancient texts.

I continued reading and became increasingly skeptical. The article claimed that an ancient Hebrew inscription that had been deciphered referred explicitly to the digging of the Siloam tunnel (Shiloach in Tanach), providing its exact date. It went on to refer to inscriptions carved in rock walls, both in the Siloam tunnel and elsewhere in ancient Yerushalayim, that described the activities of this great king. These inscriptions had supposedly gone unrecognized until this professor deciphered them.

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The World of Early Judaism

Lawrence SchiffmanIn this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we discuss the evolution from early Judaism to modern observance, as well as the outcomes of superimposing ancient Judaism onto our present day understandings.

  • Who is a “common Jew”?
  • Is Jewish disunity as modern as we think it is?
  • Why would one cling to modern Judaism despite its evolution over history?

Tune in to hear a conversation on the development of Judaism and how faith must be the answer when history fails us.

Interview begins at 23:48.

What’s Really in the Vatican Library?

Vatican LibraryDisspelling some misconconceptions about the Vatican’s collections of Jewish manuscripts

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked whether the Vatican has the menorah from the Beis Hamikdash. (The answer is no.) But I am never asked about the more then 600 Hebrew manuscripts they do have, which have been available to the scholarly community for years.

Read the rest of What’s Really in the Vatican Library? in Ami Magazine.