Monday, March 28, 2016

Whose Holy Land?: Archaeology Meets Geopolitics in Today’s Middle East

Biblical Archaeology today is more than just an obscure field for academic eggheads. It’s a mine field, with implications that may well determine the course of events, geopolitically, for the Middle East and the entire world. It’s exciting enough that there are always “Indiana Jones” adventures lurking in the background, including fantastic new discoveries, as well as age-old discussions about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant, among other things. But more than that, there’s the modern struggle to flesh out a “narrative” – a story about the origins of the “Holy Land” and to whom it belongs. The artifacts of archaeology are more than just museum pieces; they’re the storytellers, witnesses in stone, relating, in unbiased fashion, what the unvarnished truth is behind who lived in this land and when. It’s not surprising then, that modern parties to the Middle East conflict would be locked in dispute about the ownership of the artifacts as well as the land. The bottom line is: Whoever controls the artifacts controls the narrative. And the narrative is what it’s all about.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Passover, Easter and the “Apocalypse”


Springtime is a season that's all about rebirth and renewal, and it also has as its spiritual centerpiece two religious holidays, Easter for Christians and Passover for Jews. But hardly anyone recognizes that each of these holiday has much in common with the other, though not as one might think. What I mean by that is that both Passover and Easter share an undercurrent of apocalypticism, the origin which is in Judaism itself. Indeed, the whole concept of eschatology, that is the “end of days,” normally associated with Christianity, is at its core Jewish, and intimately connected with the springtime feasts celebrated by both Jews and Christians.