Thursday, December 04, 2014

Richard Bauckham, Assessing the Lost Gospel, Part 6

Here is the sixth instalment of Richard Bauckham's assessment of the new book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, The Lost Gospel.

Assessing the Lost Gospel
Part 6: On Mary Magdalene and Magdala

by Richard Bauckham

The above link is to a PDF of the article.  A Word version is also available.  Part 1 is here. Part 2 is herePart 3 is here. Part 4 is here. Part 5 is here. (When the response is complete, I'll gather links to all the parts in a single post).

10 comments: said...

Richard, In the book Jesus and Temple (edited by Charlesworth), Chapter 6, Mordechai Aviam makes some comments about the Migdal stone found in a ruined synagogue. Aviam says that two images on the stone appear as "palm trees". He then assumes these represented rakes which he says were used to rake ash and burnt bones from the main altar (outside the sanctuary). But these images quite clearly had short handles and do not look like "palm trees", but small brushes. I suggest that the Migdal stone was all about the sanctuary and the altar of incense which was kept burning 24 hours a day. This would have required regular sweeping of the burnt ash so that it could be replenished with fresh incense from the two containers which Aviam says are symbolised at the end of each long side. (See Fig. 5.6).

Unknown said...

Geoff, I've published an article about the Magdala stone, mostly agreeing with Aviam but taking the interpretation further: “Further Thoughts on the Migdal Synagogue Stone,” Novum Testamentum 56 (2014) 1-23. If you can't get access to this journal, contact me through my website, giving your email address, and I'll send it to you.

Mike Grondin said...

"... they would have been in completion with ..." should be 'competition', I think. (Feel free to delete this comment if fixed.)

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Mike. Now fixed.

Richard Fellows said...

Richard, how strong is the evidence that Tarichaeae was called Magdala at the time of Jesus? said...

Richard , thanks for the article Further Thoughts on the Migdal Synagogue Stone. I read it in conjunction with Aviam's earlier article which I also obtained.

On page 17 of your article, you wrote in relation to the stone: "Unless Aviam is right to identify the two objects on the top surface as rakes, there is, perhaps rather surprisingly, no connexion with the sacrifices indicated within this array of symbols". This statement is a little vague. First let me say that I now agree with you that the two brush like objects are palms, but they are not full palm trees. I think they represent palm fronds wrapped with handles which were waived during the feast of booths, when the Spirit came. If you were referring to animal sacrifices outside the sanctuary on the altar of burnt offering, then I would also agree.
There would then be no connection with the symbols on the stone, and they would be entirely concerned with what went on in the holy place and the holy of holies.

On page 8, you interpret Aviam's "arcade behind an arcade" depicted on the two long sides of the stone, as one building within another building. I see these arches as supporting the span of one building. And I agree with Aviam that they do represent what the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies looked like. The arches acted like room dividers. There was no need to involve the temple courts which were outside the sanctuary.

Unknown said...

Geoff - Yes, I meant sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering, not the offerings (incense and shewbread) made within the holy place. I don't know any evidence for arches of that kind within the sanctuary. Do you have any?

Richard. I think the evidence is conclusive. The excavated site fits Josephus' account of Tarichaeae very well (I think the fish factories have been found, though I'm not sure the archaeologists are fully convinced yet). Tarichaeae must have had a Semitic name.
Joan Taylor has raised questions about where Magdala was, but I think she is misreading the rabbinic material. The name was preserved in the Arab village of el-Majdel which was there until 1948. said...

Richard, I don't have any evidence for such arches to back this up. But given that the focus of the stone is the sanctuary, it must be worth considering. What was the width and depth of the sanctuary? Was the roof flat?

From one letter of Simon bar Kohkba, it looks as though he was following in the footsteps of the folks who frequented the synagogue at Migdala, with his interest in Sukkot. He wrote something like:

"Shimeon to Yehudah bar Menashe in Qiryath 'Arabaya. I have sent to you two donkeys, and you must send with them two men to Yehonathan, son of Be'ayan and to Masabala, in order that they shall pack and send to the camp, towards you, palm branches and citrons. And you, from your place, send others who will bring you myrtles and willows. See that they are tithed and sent them to the camp. The request is made because the army is big. Be well."

It appears that palm branches, citrons, myrtles and willows were all used for the worship during Sukkot. And this was after the Temple was destroyed. Do you know if Simon would also have been interested in animal sacrifice?

Something that intrigued me was stated by Aviam on page 207 of his article. He says that "the earliest synagogues that were dated up until today are the first part of the synagogue at Modiin; it is dated to the Hasmonaean period, and the suggested building at the Royal Hasmonaean palace in Jericho." Modiin, as you know, was the place where Judas Maccabeus came from.

Unknown said...

Sukkot was certainly one of the most important festivals. Whether palm branches alone, without the other species associated with Sukkot, would be sufficient to allude to it, I'm not sure. It would be worth investigating later synagogue art in this respect. But I don't think anything special happened in the sanctuary at Sukkot. It was very much a public festival and the ceremonies took place in the court of the priests and the other courts.There were, of course, important animal sacrifices at Sukkot as at all the temple festivals.
Simon bar Kochba was intending to rebuild the Temple - so, yes, animal sacrifices and all the temple festivals. But while there was no temple they couldn't do animal sacrifices, so I suppose they were celebrating Sukkot in the camp as best they could without the temple.
You should be able to find the dimensions of the sanctuary easily online somewhere (try Ritmeyer's site). I'd have to look them up. I wouldn't have thought it was big enough to need internal dividing walls with arches, but I've never really thought about it. said...

Richard , the sanctuary design on page 308 of Saunder's book, Judaism, is completely different from that on page 310. Obviously his sources must have had different interpretations. The design on page 308 has external columns around four sides, a flat roof, no upper story, and what looks like separate rooms with supporting columns. The design on page 310, has no columns at all, an upper story, and three stories of rooms on each side. Saunders has the sanctuary behind the facade 90ft wide. The kind of sanctuary envisaged with supporting arches as on the Migdal stone is feasible if the design was the former with a 90ft span. Such a span for a flat roof would be difficult to achieve without internal arches. This of course is all speculative. But is the Migdal stone telling us something? Was Herod's design bigger than that permitted? Didn't he have his altar for burnt offerings built higher than that permitted.