The period of the demise of the Kingdom of Judah at the end of the sixth century B.C.E., the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the exile of the elite to Babylon, and the reshaping of the territory of the new province of Judah, culminating at the end of the century with the first return of exiles – all have been subjects of intense scrutiny in modern scholarship. This course takes into account the biblical textual evidence, the results of archaeological research, and the reports of the Babylonian and Egyptian sources and provides a comprehensive survey and analysis of the evidence for the history of this 100-year-long era. The course includes a detailed discussion by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, with guest lectures by leading scholars dealing with the archaeological and biblical aspects of this debated topic.
You can also see a video course description here:
As a MOOC, the course is offered entirely free of charge. To enroll in the course, please check out the Coursera page here. You can also learn more about the course and the professors leading it on this article by Biblical Archaeology Review.
Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)
Google paired with the Israel Antiquities Authority to publish the entirety of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, primarily discovered in the 1940’s, are documents of both historical and religious significance. The scrolls, which date to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, are the earliest surviving copies of biblical and peri-biblical documents in existence.
“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library offers an exceptional encounter with antiquity. Using the world’s most advanced imaging technology, the Digital Library preserves thousands of scrolls fragments, including the oldest known copies of biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.” — Statement on the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library website.
Visitors can browse the collection by geography (archaeological site at which they were found), language (my Aramaic is a bit rusty I must admit), or by topic (scripture, history, etc). The collection includes detailed information on the history and provenance of the texts.
A recent find by archaeologists during a tomb exploration in Jerusalem uncovered what could be the earliest archaeological evidence for Christianity in Jerusalem. One ossuary, an object similar to a coffin or sarcophagus, contains a four line Greek Inscription that refers to God “raising up” someone. An ossuary next to it depicts an inscription of an individual in the mouth of a large fish – perhaps a reference to the Biblical figure Jonah, akin to other examples of early Christian art.
The ossuaries have been sent to the Israeli State Collection and are waiting authentication. If the ossuaries prove to be authentic (there are many fakes, most famous the Jesus Ossuary and the James Brother of Jesus Ossuary), then they would represent (by centuries) the earliest evidence for Christianity. The objects would predate the gospels by centuries.
Internet giant Google has enabled scholars to post a chunk of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important documents to Biblical scholars aside from the Old and New testaments. The announcement has generated a great deal of excitement amongst professional and lay scholars alike – providing ready access to the materials to the public for free.
Biblical scholarship and archaeology is all a twitter (literally and figuratively) over a new ossuary authentication as belonging to the family of Caiaphas. The full inscription reads: “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphus, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”
Ossuary forgeries are common place in Israel and, especially with the recent high profile case of the “Ossuary of James,” professional antiquities dealers, collectors, and scholars are often hesitant to identify historically relevant boxes. Still, Profesor Goren of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology feels confident of its identity.
To learn more about this finding, read the full article at Science Daily.