TaborBlog July Newsletter: Breaking News & Updates

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July 11, 2022 Newsletter

Dear TaborBlog Subscribers,

As we move toward the middle of the month, I wanted to offer an update on various topics related to my own work and research as well as a breaking news story that is quite fascinating.

Perhaps some of you might have seen the headlines just this past week in several major news outlets with various eye-catching headlines:

Times of Israel: “3,500-year-old stone is inscribed with curse on Jerusalem governor, claims professor”

HaAretz: “Archaeologists Reveal Oldest Inscription in Jerusalem: A Canaanite Curse.”

The professor mentioned in these stories is Gershon Galil, professor of Biblical Studies and History at the University of Haifa. The stone was discovered in 2010 by archaeologist Eli Shukron in an ancient compound called the Pillar Temple in the City of David, near the Gihon Spring in ancient Jerusalem—just south of the present “Temple Mount.” Professor Galil claims he has deciphered the inscription, which curses the “ruler of Jerusalem,” which he reads:

Cursed, cursed, you will surely die;

Cursed, cursed, you will surely die;

Governor of the City, you will surely die;

Cursed, you will surely die;

Cursed, you will surely die;

Cursed, you will surely die.”

You can find good pictures and drawings of the stone and its lettering in these newspaper articles. And if you want to try your own hand at “reading: the inscription yourself, Ross K. Nichols has provided this extremely helpful guide: “The Jerusalem Stone Tablet Inscription Key,” which you can download free and work with. Give it a try–you will learn a lot and it is also fun–share it with your kids like you would a puzzle or mystery!

Pushback on the story was immediate and just yesterday, Prof. Christopher Rollston of George Washington University, published a response, also in the Times of Israel, Sensational Claims about the Jerusalem Stone ‘Inscription’: Not so Fast!” in which he questions the claims of Professor Galil. You can follow the ongoing discussion back and forth at the Facebook pages of Prof. Galil as well as Prof. Rollston.

Professor Galil was also involved in deciphering the Mt Ebal lead “Curse” tablet that broke in the news this past April, as well as the ancient paleo-Hebrew inscription discovered by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Elah valley—where the Bible places the slaying of the Goliath by the young shepherd boy David.

As a scholar specializing in Christian Origins and what we in the field call “Late Second Temple Judaism,” that includes the Dead Sea Scrolls, these paleo-Hebrew inscriptions are way out of my expertise, reaching back, in some cases, to the Late Bronze age—over 3,500 hundred years ago.

Of course I am interested in “All Things Biblical,” as my TaborBlog description declares—but what particularly fascinates me about anything that might be associated with paleo-Hebrew writing is the possible ramifications for the Moses Shapira scroll—that I have covered this past year in my blog, see my Biblical Archaeology Review article with Idan Dershowitz for a good summary of the “Case for Authenticity” and do a search for “Shapira” on my blog if you need to catch up on the past year of breaking news in this regard—and be sure you get a copy of Ross K. Nichols book, The Moses Scroll—which is the most complete treatment of the entire Shapira Saga. You can also subscribe to and follow his blog at that site. Nichols has also just started a Youtube Channel with several related videos and discussions–be sure to visit and subscribe to keep up with the latest!

As you might recall, this whole matter of “blessings” and “curses” comes up in Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 8:30-35—associated with a formal ceremony at Mt Ebal. However, our copies of Deuteronomy provide only the “curses,” not the blessings—whereas the Shapira “Moses Scroll” lists out the “blessings” as well—and very possibly indicates a different location for this twin mountains or hills—Ebal and Gerazim. You can read Nichol’s studies on this matter of the blessings and curses on his Academia.edu page: “Chart of the Ten Words with Associated Blessings and Curses—Shapira’s MSS,” and his thoughts on the nature and location of “Ebal” and “Gerazim” in his article: “The Lead Curse Amulet & Shapira’s Altar-less Alternative Ebal.”

In my own work I am convinced that Jesus and his early followers were aware of alternative versions of the “Torah,” particularly the book we now know as Deuteronomy. We find evidence of that in the paleo-Hebrew texts of Deuteronomy in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I think also reflected in some of the sources that lie behind our New Testament Gospels—particularly as related to the Ten Commandments and this whole matter of “blessings and curses.” I will be writing about some of that in future blog posts and articles and I will of course keep you all informed.

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Beyond that I wanted to be sure all you saw my two most recent blog posts—the latter of which connects to an interview I just did on my translation of The Book of Genesis now posted on my Youtube channel. In just two days that video has had over 10 thousand views—surpassing anything I have posted so far on Channel. So if you want to get any of the books for gifts or summer reading, or learn more about this very unique translation, here are the links:

The Tabor Five: Summer Sale!

Reading Genesis in a New Light: An Interview

Please subscribe my Youtube Channel, which now has over 100 video uploads. There will be a lot more new materials, both written and video, through the Summer and Fall, exploring these and related issues as I transition from my university perch to a more public teaching and research focus which I hope will benefit all of you.

I welcome any of you to follow me otherwise on various social media–as well as my personal blog Genesia and my new post-UNC Charlotte academic site with all my teaching materials: The Jewish Roman World of Jesus.

Here are all the links in one place:

About Dr. James D. Tabor: https://jamestabor.com/about-dr-tabor/

Academic Blog: https://jamestabor.com/;

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jamestaborvideos

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drjdtabor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jamesdtabor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamesdtabor

Jewish-Roman World of Jesus: https://jewishromanworldjesus.com/

Personal Blog: https://genesia.org

Take care everyone, until next time.

James

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