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Bible History Daily's Week in Review

October 20, 2012


Puzzling Finds from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud

In 1975, archaeologist Ze’ev Meshel started to excavate Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, and the finds were fantastic. The team discovered two large storage jars featuring inscriptions referring to Yahweh and his asherah or Asherah, along with drawings of the Egyptian god Bes.

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud: An Iron Age II Religious Site on the Judah-Sinai Border

Forty years after discovering the site, Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze’ev Meshel has finally released a well-researched and beautifully illustrated volume on Kuntillet ‘Ajrud. The book brings the thrill of exploration to life and is well worth the wait.

Is the Harvard Theological Review a Coward or Did Dr. Karen King Do Something Wrong?

The prestigious Harvard Theological Review has withdrawn Dr. Karen King’s article on the “gospel of Jesus‘ wife.” BAR editor Hershel Shanks criticizes the publication’s decision by stating: “Dispute is the life of scholarship. It is to be welcomed, not fled from.”

The Autographed Rock Art of Southern Jordan

BAR associate editor Glenn J. Corbett sheds light on the rock art of the so-called “Thamudic-speaking” tribes who roamed Palestine’s southern deserts about 2,000 years ago during the heyday of the Nabatean kingdom.

Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?

A Seder table setting

A Seder table setting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jonathan Klawans discusses the common conception that Jesus’ Last Supper was a Seder by comparing evidence from the Gospels with the historical development of the modern Passover Seder tradition. Read the full article online for free as it appeared in Bible Review.

Jonathan Klawans   •  10/18/2012

Traditional Views of Jesus’ Last Supper as a Passover Meal

With his disciples gathered around him, Jesus partakes of his Last Supper. The meal, in this late-15th-century painting (now in a private collection) by the Spanish artist known only as the Master of Perea, consists of lamb, unleavened bread and wine—all elements of the Seder feast celebrated on the first night of the Jewish Passover festival. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke appear to present Jesus’ Last Supper as a Seder. In John, however, the seven-day Passover festival does not begin until after Jesus is crucified. Jonathan Klawans suggests that the Passover Seder as we know it developed only after the time of Jesus. Christie’s Images/Superstock

Many people assume that Jesus’ Last Supper was a Seder, a ritual meal held in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. And indeed, according to the Gospel of Mark 14:12, Jesus prepared for the Last Supper on the “first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.” If Jesus and his disciples gathered together to eat soon after the Passover lamb was sacrificed, what else could they possibly have eaten if not the Passover meal? And if they ate the Passover sacrifice, they must have held a Seder.

Three out of four of the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) agree that the Last Supper was held only after the Jewish holiday had begun. Moreover, one of the best known and painstakingly detailed studies of the Last Supper—Joachim Jeremias’s book The Eucharistic Words of Jesus—lists no fewer than 14 distinct parallels between the Last Supper tradition and the Passover Seder.1


The End of an Era: Frank Moore Cross

Hershel Shanks mourns the passing of Biblical scholar Frank Moore Cross with a thoughtful obituary for a man who stood at the “very pinnacle of the profession, universally respected and admired.”

The Young Meet the Old

Over 500 Israeli youths joined University of Haifa archaeologists in Israel’s largest community archaeological dig at Tel Esur to expose a diverse array of discoveries.

Group Seeks Recognition of Aramaic Language and Maronite Heritage

Aram, an Israeli Maronite Christian group, seeks formal recognition for their cultural and ethnic heritage, and in doing so, are reviving the Aramaic language for Israeli youths.


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Write a caption for this cartoon (see Matthew 7:9-10). The deadline for mailed entries is November 30. The author of the winning caption will receive a copy of the BAS book The Origins of Things, a BAS tote bag and three gift subscriptions to give BARto friends. Runners-up will receive a BAS tote bag and two gift subscriptions.

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