John and Judaism
The Old Testament in Archaeology and History

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The Book of Haggai and the Rebuilding of the Temple in the Early Persian Period

By John Robert Barker

Until recently, the period of biblical history known as the postexilic, or Persian, era has suffered from relative neglect by biblical scholars. True, there are have always been those scholars who dedicated their lives to the study of the books that reflect this period – Ezra, Nehemiah, and the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi – but it is only in the last few decades that Persian period studies have come into their own, giving rise to a vigorous and rich field of inquiry, the fruits of which have only begun to emerge. See complete essay


Counting and Weighing: On the Role of Intuition in Philology and Linguistics, with Some Thoughts on Linguistic Comments by R. E. Friedman in The Exodus

By Martin Ehrensvärd et al.

Samuel R. Driver famously stated that words should be weighed, not counted, and thus he cast doubt on the usefulness of statistics in linguistics. He said this over 100 years ago, and since then a great deal of solid work has been done on Biblical Hebrew by philologists relying more on intuition and qualitative analyses, and less on quantitative measures and a strict linguistic framework. A scholar’s intuition is a crucial means in producing good scholarship, but in certain circumstances, as I shall argue, it is a hindrance. See complete essay


Compassion: Between a Mosaic Precept and a Common Human Potential

By Françoise Mirguet

Many Judeo-Hellenistic texts address the emotions that one feels—or should feel—when confronted with the suffering of others. Emotions that we identify today as compassion or sympathy are evoked in many literary genres of this variegated corpus, produced by Greek-speaking Jews from the late Hellenistic and early imperial periods (from approximately 300 BCE to 200 CE). Narratives repeatedly portray characters moved by the suffering of others. In retellings of scriptural stories, Hellenistic authors sometimes introduce an emotion in places where the Hebrew Bible either is silent about or only implies the character’s affective reaction. This is that essay. See complete essay


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In My View - Opinion

The Ancient Israelites through Archaeology, History and Text

By Paul V. M. Flesher

Why is it important to study the ancient Israelites, a people whose history was recorded in books more than 2000 years ago? The answer is as simple as it is powerful: they created monotheism, the worship of one god.

Israelite writings recorded the many interactions they had with their god over the first millennium BCE. Collected into the Jewish Hebrew Bible and then the Christian Old Testament, they became the foundation for three of the world’s major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Nearly half of the world’s population, at least its religious population, look to ancient Israel for their religious roots. See complete essay


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