A lecture series will be held next weekend in Boca Raton, Florida, with leading scholars of the Second Temple period. The conference is open to the public and free of charge. The purpose of the meetings is described as follows:

Focal Question: How significantly and in what ways did the Temple and its cult help define the social and spiritual life of early Jews, including Jesus and his earliest followers?

Purpose: To correct the popular impression that Jesus despised the Temple and its cult because he attacked the money changers and was apparently condemned by the leading high priests [the historicity of each event must be discussed]. To raise questions which are focused on pre-70 Jews, Jesus, his followers and the Temple and to seek a new consensus on the grid questions.

Lectures include:

Leen Ritmeyer: “Imagining the Temple Early Jews Knew”

Response: Dan Bahat: “Imagining and Excavating the Temple Area”

Dan Bahat: “The Architecture of the Temple”

Motti Aviam: “Temple Symbolism and the Lives of Galilean Jews”

Lawrence H. Schiffman: “The Importance of the Temple for Early Jews”

Dan Bahat: “Worship in the Temple”

James H. Charlesworth: “Jesus, the Temple Cult, and the Temple”

Gary A. Rendsburg: “The Davidic Psalms and the Temple”

James H. Charlesworth: “Jesus’ Followers and the Power of the Temple”

Harold W. Attridge: “The Temple and the High Priestly Jesus in New Testament Texts”

Loren Stuckenbruck: “The Temple in the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses”


An extension of the symposium is being held on Dec 18-19 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Though I have serious misgivings about the stated purpose of the symposium, I would certainly attend if I was able.

Full details are here. An RSVP is requested.


More than 20,000 people have offered suggestions as to the purpose of the mysterious marks recently uncovered by archaeologists in Jerusalem. From the Jerusalem Post:

Last week, Ir David Foundation head archeologist Eli Shukron told reporters he was so puzzled by the shapes – three V’s about 50 cm. long and 5 cm. deep – that he couldn’t begin to guess their function. The figures were found in a room near a spring, an important ritual area for the ancient city.
But Shukron’s bewilderment hasn’t stopped people around the world from offering their conjectures. Among the most interesting ideas: a torture device, drainage for ancient urinals, the original McDonald’s sign, an abbreviation for “veni vidi vici” (Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered”), a footprint from King Solomon’s pet dinosaur, molds for smelting iron to make tools, the Trinity, a representation of mountains or the symbol for water, signs to the exit, an alien cryptogram, or support for a wooden structure.
Or perhaps, as one reader commented, “3,000 years ago, a worker said to his buddy, ‘I know how to drive archeologists crazy…’”

The marks remind me of preparation to cut a board. If these engravings are directly above Hezekiah’s Tunnel (and I don’t know that they are), I’d surmise that the outer arrows mark the edges of the cutting and the middle one marks the center point.

The full story is here. You can read the 20,000 comments and make your own here.

HT: Joseph Lauer