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Sunday, November 13, 2005
 
Thomas L. Thompson and the Tel es Safi shard ::

Jim posts a comment from Thompson provoked by the buzz over the 10th century BCE (Philistine) shard from Tel es Safi that features what may be names formed like that of the biblical character Goliath. Thompson ends with a challenge: Does anyone know why so much nonsense is being published by journalists or why so many biblical scholars are paying attention to it?

That question, of course, is really two, and it seems disingenuous to make them appear one by writing it as one sentence.

So, breaking it up: "Does anyone know why so much nonsense is being published by journalists? Duh! Because in the USA and Israel lots of punters will pay good money for bad reporting and nearly as bad archaeology, just so long as it can be claimed to "prove the Bible". It is noticeable that in less religious States (or at least in NZ) none of these finds has made print the media.

The second question is different, and not a no-brainer: "...why so many biblical scholars are paying attention to it?" Actually this question, as well as being linked grammatically to the previous one shifts the ground. In Thompson's body he has mentioned not only the Tel es Safi shard, but also the "abecedary found in Palestine's southern coast" (SIC) and the "large wall in Jerusalem". Now, frankly, I find the Tel es Safi shard rather boreing, indicating as it does that constructions (which may well be names) like Goliath's name appear on a 10th century Philistine writing - I'm not an epigrapher, so yawn yawn. But the abecedary, now that gets my interest, it begins to fill out our sketchy picture of literacy in Israel, together with other information about the site it helps to build our knowledge in ways that assist me to read the texts and frankly I'm puzzled why Thompson, who has written extensively and controversially on this topic cannot see the interest!


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