Why I Established Google Custom Search For This Blog

You may have noticed that there has appeared a Google Custom Search link on the sidebar. I shall here explain the reasons for the establishment of a Google Custom Search engine for this blog. Firstly, I admittedly do not like the WordPress search feature at this blog’s header. As the results are not in chronological order, I see no reason to use the WordPress search feature over a Google Custom Search feature. One cannot avoid duplications of results with a conventional Google search on a WordPress.com blog, due to Google showing results for tag, category, and archive pages. Thus, if you need to search something on this blog, please use the Google Custom Search feature, which also has an image search feature, which WordPress.com doesn’t. So far, no one has clicked on the Google Custom Search link.


New Article on Coins found at Bethsaida

Bethsaida, along with Banias/Caesarea Philippi (both cities Jesus was written to have visited in the Gospel of Mark) is mentioned by Josephus as being transformed into a city called Julias by Philip the Tetrarch. The city is said by Josephus to be near the Jordan. Here is the site plan. Here is the coin report. The report indicates that most of Bethsaida’s coins came from Tyre and Jerusalem. Though there are fewer coins from the 1st C CE than from either the 2nd C CE or from the 1st C BC, five coins of Philip the Tetrarch and two coins of Antipas have been found at Bethsaida. Some Achaemenid coins were also found at the site. Bethsaida was apparently abandoned sometime in the fourth century AD, though was lightly reoccupied in the sixth.

Incidentally, Mark 6 makes no sense as it is; Mark 6:45 states Jesus intends to go to Bethsaida, but in Mark 6:53, Jesus winds up at Gennesaret! Bethsaida is next mentioned in Mark 8:22. Thus, some have, remembering the Gospel of Luke does not use the Bethsaida section, proposed the hypothesis that the whole “Bethsaida section”, as the section between Mark 6:45 and 8:22 is called, is an interpolation.

Quick Note on Poll Questions

What the polls ask:

(from http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/table-belief-in-god-or-universal-spirit-by-religious-tradition.pdf )
What the polls should ask:
Does God exist?

What the polls ask:

(from http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report2-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf#page=99 )
These questions are less flawed than those on the existence of God. Nevertheless, they could use improvement.
What the polls should ask:
Did the human species evolve from other species of organisms?
Is the diversity of life that we see today a result of evolution?
Is the diversity of life that we see today a result of intervention by a god?
The questions I declare polls should ask allow little room for doublethink. They help religionists understand that questions about the existence of God or the responsibility of Evolution for diversity of life on Earth are questions of fact. Preferably, the questions I declare the polls should ask should be asked along with other questions on less contested facts than the responsibility of evolution for the diversity of life on Earth.
Also, depressing poll results (scroll down to agreement)– those against teaching creationism in government-funded schools and those against teaching evolution in government-funded schools in the U.S. are roughly equal in number, numbering between roughly a fifth and roughly a third of the U.S. population.

Transcript of Reza Aslan on the Daily Show

UPDATE (Oct. 13, 2013): To those coming in from a link in the Al-Tamimi article, please read this post of mine. Why al-Tamimi referred to John Oliver as Jon Stewart is a mystery to me.

Here is another transcript. Reza Aslan is “A”, John Oliver is “O”.
O: Welcome Back.
O: My guest tonight, a best-selling author whose new book is called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
Please welcome back to the show, the fantastic Reza Aslan!
A: Yes. Yes. Nice to meet you. Good to see you. Thank you. All right.
O: Reza, Reza, Reza, Reza, Reza,
A: John, John, John, John, John, John, John.
O: Uh, thank you for being here.
A: Let’s talk about Jesus.
O: Let’s talk about Jesus. Let’s…
A: You’ve heard of him; you’ve heard of Jesus.
O: I think everybody’s heard of Jesus. I think everyone in the world has a relationship with Jesus, whether they want one or not.
A: Yeah, all right.
O: And, let’s be clear, this book is about Jesus, the man, not so much Jesus, the Christ.
A: It’s about the Historical Jesus, not the Christ of Faith, but, I mean, the fact of the matter is that whether you believe that Jesus was God Incarnate, God Made Flesh, or not, you believe that he was also a man, and if he was a man, then he lived in a specific time and place, and that time and place kind of matters, you know, I mean, it’s like, if you really want to know who he was, you have to put his words and his actions in the context of the world in which he lived, he, the, the teachings have to be seen according to the social ills that he confronted, and, and, the political forces, uh, that, that he, he, confronted.
O: Well, at the time, and, uh, incidentally, I loved this book.
A: Thanks.
O: And, uh, the time, and am place which he lived, it was total, total chaos,
A: Yeah.
O: possibly the most chaotic time in that region, and that region is the Middle East.
A: Uh-zuuh, yeah, yeah, yeah…
O: That’s a high crazy bar.
A: This was, uh, this was probably the most tumultuous era in the Holy Land, which, as you say is saying a lot; a time of apocalyptic fervor, a time in which we’re slowly moving towards this huge Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire that ultimately resulted in the leveling of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, the exile of the Jews; and every word that was ever written about Jesus in the Gospels was written after that event.
O: Right. ‘Cause I mean you talk about it in here, how, in, in the Bible, Jesus refers [to him seeing?]* a “detached celestial spirit”, and, you know, we, we all think of him in paintings, and with birds on his arms and li-lions curled up at his feet…
A: That part is true, actually..
O: Yeah, okay, okay with, the, the lions curled up at his feet? Okay, it could be. Uh, but, he, this was a man directly involved with the politics of his time.
A: If you knew nothing else about Jesus except that he was crucified, you’d know enough to understand who he was. Crucifixion was a punishment that Rome reserved solely for crimes against the State. Rebellion, insurrection, treason, sedition. These were the only crimes that you could be crucified for. The thieves who were crucified alongside with Jesus were not thieves; the Greek word “lestai” doesn’t mean “thief”, it means “bandit”, and “bandit” was the most common term in Jesus’s time for a, a rebel, for an insurrectionist. I mean his crime was actually etched above his head- “King of the Jews”- for the life of me, I, I can’t figure out why modern Christians think that this is some sort of like, a, a, like a Roman joke, you know, like that,
O: Well,…
A: like the Romans were known for their sense of humor,
A: or something.
A: I mean, uh, every, everybody who was crucified, everybody who was crucified, had their crime publicly displayed so that people know what happens when you defy the will of Rome.
O: But, I, uh, I think why I responded so much to this as well is that, you know, I’ve not had much of a relationship with Jesus the Christ in my life because as a child you, you, you hear these stories and he does seem too ghost-like, too unreal, and, I remember when I was a kid growing up, the thing, the story that I responded to the most was that moment on the cross where he’s screaming “my god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me”, and he becomes real, ’cause that’s human anger.
A: Yeah, I actually had a very similar experience, because I actually converted to Evangelical Christianity when I was a kid and really I mean burned with this Gospel message that I heard; really, really felt it deep in my, in my life, and then in College, when I began to study the New Testament, I became far more interested in this historical person than I ever was of this kind of celestial Christ that, that you’re referring to; this man who lived two thousand years ago, who defied the, the most powerful empire the world had ever known, and lost, but never the less, stood up for the weak and powerless, the, the outcasts and the dispossessed, and ultimately sacrificed his life for those people. I mean Christians believe that he sacrificed his life uh, you know, to free us from sin, it’s a perfectly fine interpretation for the Christ, but what we know about the man, Jesus, is that he went to the cross on behalf of these outcasts that he was fighting for.
O: Uh, can, can you stick around and go to the web?
A: Yeah, let’s do it.
O: Before we go to talk? I, I, absolutely love this book; you’ve gotta get it, uh, Zealot is on the bookshelves now. -The fantastic Reza Aslan.
A: Thank you. Thanks for…
O: Uh.
A: Wow, it’s so quiet all of a sudden.
O: It’s uh, [chuckling] the, the, the Internet is quiet.
A: Yes!
O: And when the Internet is quiet, something awful is about to happen. A Congressman is about to disturb the force.
A: You know, what your audience doesn’t know is that my children have completely taken over the, the green room.
A: I’ve got my twin
O: Really?
A: one-and-a-half year-olds, I’ve got my brother in law and sister in-law’s kids in there; I mean it’s like a daycare…
O: Wow, uh…
A: in the green room now.
O: Aslan runs heavy!
A: Yeah.
O: That’s a heavy people posse.
A: That’s my posse. My posse’s mostly under two.
A: Oh, uh, I thought you were going to Obama it…
O: Oh, okay,
A: That would have been awesome!
O: that would have been, uh, m’ that was why I was just gonna slap you in…
A: Just smack me for no reason, yeah.
O: Yeah, that’s right. Um, uh, yeah. The idea of, um, a timeless god, people o-, people often
A: Yeah.
O: assume that, you know, Jesus would be above politics now, but he, you have to believe that the man he was, he would have been actively involved in everything right now.
A: Simply saying the words “I am the Messiah”,…
O: Right.
A: in first-century Palestine…
O: Right.
A: is a treasonable offense. “Messiah” means “the anointed one”. The entire purpose of the Messiah is to re-create the Kingdom of David on Earth, to usher in the reign of God. Well, if you’re ushering in the reign of God, you’re ushering out the reign of Caesar. Uh, so just that phrase alone makes him a deeply political figure.
O: But, I, I, I’m kind, I’m kind of interested with this in, you know, how this could be offensive. Because I don’t, I, I can’t see it, because the realness of the man becomes immensely appealing; you get, I, personally, go to having a much more personal relationship with Jesus through this; I, I, what how could you push back against this?
A: Look, I mean…
O: How could you push back against an academic other than saying “you’re an academic” and…
A: Right.
O: “Oh, he’s one of them Muslamic people”?
A: Am, I, yeah, I’m a Muslamic person, like a-
O: Yeah. Yeah.
A: Um. Look, if you believe that Jesus is God, than you could believe that the context doesn’t matter, right, so who cares? The world that he lived in. Who cares? The motivations that, that, propelled his actions, I mean, his actions are eternal. His words are eternal, so, the context of his time is totally immaterial. I get that. But, I’m not, I’m not about attacking Christianity. My mom was a Christian, my wife is a Christian, by brother-in-law is a Christian pastor, uh, but I do believe firmly that you can be a follower of Jesus and not be a Christian. Just, just as you can be a Christian and not a follower of Jesus, if you know what I mean.
O: Yes, I think…
O: I think I know exactly what you mean there.
O: Um. And, and you also one of the fascinated, you talk a lot through this book about the, the problem of using the modern concept of history when we read the gospels, you know, you say that for them history was not actually about uncovering facts, but about revealing truths, which is, you know, it’s a very, it’s almost like…
A: Right.
O: political spin in the modern sense, it’s not about, it’s almost Truthiness, it’s almost Colbert’s Truthiness…
A: It’s truthiness-to be… Well, there are two sort of basic facts about the gospels that, that are so obvious, but, but, people don’t understand the consequences of it. One, they’re written in Greek. Why? If they were, I mean, every other document about Jews written by Jews- almost every other document around that time was written either in Hebrew or in Aramaic, Hebrew the, the language of the Scriptures, Aramaic the language of the Jews. Why is it written in Greek? It’s written in Greek because it’s not for Jews, it’s for Romans. The audience was not Jews, the audience was Romans. And, then, secondly, why are there four gospels? I mean, why, why do we need four? Why not just one? And, frankly, these gospels contradict each other in many, many ways. They, they have different timelines, different, uh, outlines for, for, for events. Now, do you think the people, the, the sort of early Church Fathers who put these gospels together and canonized them didn’t know that?
O: [Chuckle]
A: They didn’t realize that “wait, the infancy narratives in Matthew, and, and Luke don’t match”, that Jesus is crucified on a completely different day in John than he is, in, in the other gospels. Of course they knew that, but they didn’t care because thi- this idea of literalism; that the Bible is literally true is a incredibly new phenomenon.
O: Right, but that, but that’s what’s interesting, because it’s not just that they didn’t care, but that they, that they were not intended to be read literally.
A: They were not intended to do that.
O: They would not have wanted people to go, “oh, yeah, so that was exactly the point, I get it”. Uh, no, no, no, it’s a broad- I’m trying to illustrate a broader truth with this kind of lie.
A: I’ll give you one example of this.
O: Huh, yeah.
A: “Lie” is the wrong word. “Lie” is the wrong word.
O: Well, I don’t know, born in Bethlehem, would be a lie.
A: Ee-
O: Because-
A: It would be factually incorrect.
O: [Laughs]. Okay. [Laughs]
O: Yeah.
A: So, so, okay, what you’re saying, this is exactly right.
O: Well, I see. Yeah.
A: Which i- which i-, so, the story you were talking about is the story that Luke says which is that in 6 C.E. there was this census all over the Roman world and that, and what the census said was that every s-, every subject of Rome had to get up from where they were living and go to the, the birthplace of, of their father, and wait there, and be counted.
O: Right.
A: Well, we know a lot about Roman, uh, taxation, uh, because they were very good at documenting, documentation,
O: Oh, and if,
A: …at the time of Jesus for taxation. They were…
O: if nothing else, Romans were stickless for paperwork.
A: really good, they were great, really serious for papyrus work. Um, but, so we know for a fact, two things, one, there was no such census in Galilee, which is where Jesus lived, (there was in Judea, but not in Galilee), and, two, the idea that every once in a while, every subject of Rome had to uproot themselves and their families, travel who knows how many miles to the land of their father’s birth, and then sit there and wait for a Roman official to come and count them
and their property, which they left in their place of residence…
O: [Laughs]
A: anyway, is ridiculous.
O: Yeah, well, when you put it like that…
A: But, but here’s the important thing. Here’s the important thing. Luke knew what he was writing…
O: Right.
A: was factually…
O: Right.
A: incorrect.
O: Right.
A: The audience, the, the readers of Luke’s gospel…
O: That’s the point.
A: knew that what he was writing didn’t actually happen. They weren’t interested in facts, they were interested in truth. The truth that is revealed from this story is that Jesus is born in the city of David and therefore he’s the, the inheritor of David’s kingdom and he is the anointed Messiah. But, the fact is that Jesus was probably born in Nazareth, I mean, if there’s one thing that everybody seem to have agreed upon, his enemies and his followers, is that he was a Nazarean.
O: But, but, is the, is the space between those two things where, where fundamentalism begins, then? Because you have something which is saying this is everything, is, it-, literalism, this is a fact, and a gentler, broader truth, an, a, a, a, a more analytical…
A: Yeah.
O: view of everything is where you feel that’s the kill switch, that’s the emergency parachute.
A: Fundamentalism is a reaction to the Scientific Revolution of the, of the nineteenth century. It’s a reaction to Christian liberalism. We as a society came to the conclusion that that which is true is that which can be empirically verified.
O: Right.
A: And, I think a group of conservative Christians felt as though that was a threat to them, because unless you can empirically verify the claims of the Bible, then it’s not scientifically true. And, so, they read the Bible as though it were literally true in a way that it was never intended to be read. Instead of understanding that the truth of the scriptures goes far beyond any kind of historical claims that it makes.
O: Right.
A: The truth is about, the, you know, it, it’s about the message that it’s trying to convey. Uh, not about, you know, the sort of dates and, and facts.
O: Yeah, not the fact that Jesus is a carpenter in Nazareth, a town that has no market for carpentry…
A: No market for carpentry.
O: whatsoever.
A: Yeah.
O: Where all the houses are from mud and brick. There’s no…
A: Mud, mud and brick, yeah.
O: If he’s a carpenter, he’s an unemployed carpenter in the…
permanent sense.
A: Well here’s, here’s a little fascinating thing and since we’re on the Internet I can talk all day about this.
O: Yeah.
A: Um.
A: So, you’re right. For, for a carpenter, for a woodworker, there’s nothing in, in Nazareth for him to do. But, about an hour walk from Nazareth, is this massive urban cosmopolitan city- the capital city of Galilee, called Sepphoris, that’s being built literally from the ground up. And every artisan, every day laborer, every woodworker from, you know, twenty, fifty miles away is descending upon this city to build it. And, so, to Jesus and his family, that means that this is a man who did, who spent most of his childhood not in this tiny, backwoods hamlet, but in this urban metropolis surrounded by Greek-speakers and Romans and Arabs and Syrians and, and very, very wealthy Jews, and all day long, he would build their palaces, build their mansions, and then go home to his mud hut. And this is a man who understood at a deep, deep level the, the distance between the haves and the have-nots in his, in his life, and in his society.
O: Right, and I wanted to be clear, I, I liked this man. I liked the guy who was a day laborer, who was probably illiterate. Who was…
A: Me, too.
O: a radical nationalist. I like this guy. I like him a lot more than I like the, the bird stand.
A: [Chuckles]
O: I, he, he means more to me. You can, you can have a personal relationship with this man and I just wonder how he would feel about Touchdown Jesus.
A: [Chuckles].
O: You know?
O: I wonder if this guy would go “wha- what is that? That seems sacrilegious, but, also, it’s kind of awesome.”.
A: It’s gonna cost him.**
O: It’s kind of great.
A: Uh, if Jesus were alive today, if, if the illiterate, uneducated Jewish peasant from the backwoods of Galilee were alive today, I think he’d be confused by the, the sort of demigod that, that, that he is interpreted as being by, by many people. And, and that’s because the most important thing to remember about Jesus, the single most important thing, is that he was a Jew. Not a Christian. That the only god he knew was the god of the Hebrew Bible. The only scriptures he understood were the Torah and the Prophets. That the concept of a god-man, which doesn’t exist in anywhere in five thousand years of Jewish thought, scripture, or history, would have been so unfamiliar to him that he would be incapable of even conceiving it. You know what I mean? Like…
O: Right.
A: he wouldn’t have the wherewithal to understand what the Hell you were talking about, let alone, uh, you know, uh, recognize it. Let alone, like, you know say, “yeah, that, that sounds good; that’s me”.
O: And that…
O: And that is the true answer to the bracelet “What would Jesus do?”. Just kidding.
A: [Chuckles]
O: What would Jesus do? You go, I, I don’t know, I’ve got no idea…
A: No idea.
O: there’s your blows*** mind. I, I, I cannot recommend this book highly- I loved this. This a- blew my mind. It’s a fantastic read. You’ve gotta get it. Zealot is on the bookshelves now. Reza Aslan, ladies and gentlemen!
A: Thank you.

*Unintelligible. May be “to himself”.
** Unintelligible. May be “It’s kind of awesome”.
*** Unintelligible. May be “blow his”.

Was Bartimaeus Mark’s Young Man In The Tomb and in the Arrest Scene?

Read these selected passages from Mark. Asterisks indicate present tense changed to past tense.

Over the past few days, I have been closely re-reading the Gospel of Mark, searching for anything not visible at first sight which I might have missed the previous times I have read the gospel. I was especially looking for probable Chehov’s guns. I may have found one such gun.

I shall here point out several details in these passages that make it likely that the Bartimaeus of the first of the above-linked-to passages is the “young man” of the second two passages. It is to be remembered that from the time the disciples abandon Jesus in Mark 14, Mark conscripts a small army of minor characters to fill the place of the do-nothing apostles, including
Anonymous Swordbearer (Mark 14:47)
Anonymous Young Man [Bartimaeus?] (Mark 14:51, Mark 16:5)
Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21)
Anonymous person with sponge (Mark 15:36)
The Centurion (Mark 15:39)
Women, among whom are Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome (Mark 15:40, Mark 15:47, Mark 16:1)
Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43)

Mark 16:7 shows that Mark’s “young man” was certainly aware of Jesus’s statement about Galilee in Mark 14:28 (the only time Jesus speaks of Galilee in all the Gospel of Mark). Thus, Mark’s “young man” was probably overhearing Jesus from the time Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives in Mark 14:26 to the time Jesus was arrested and spoke his last coherent two contiguous sentences in Mark 14:48-9. It is to be remembered that there were “those about him” other than the Twelve to whom was given “the secret of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 4:10). As Bartimaeus was described in Mark 10:52 as beginning to follow Jesus, it is logical that he was one of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11.

Firstly, to my knowledge, Bartimaeus is the only person healed by Jesus in the whole Gospel of Mark who is described as beginning to follow him. His healing is also the last baptism with the Holy Spirit (i.e., healing miracle) Jesus performs. Secondly, Bartimaeus being the young man in the tomb fits quite well with Jesus’s statement in Mark 10:31 (in the same chapter as the Bartimaeus story), that “many who are first will be last, and the last, first”. It should also be noted that Jesus alludes to his coming passion in Mark 10:33-4 and warns that disciples’ attempts to climb in rank will lead to their ruin, while during Bartimaeus’s healing, there is no complaint (as in Mark 9:17-29) by Jesus. Fourthly, Bartimaeus displays a clear awareness of Jesus’s status as Messiah, and is the first person in the Gospel of Mark not possessed by evil spirits to point out Jesus’s messianic nature outside Jesus and his group of disciples by calling Jesus “Son of David”. Indeed, Bartimaeus is shown to have so much faith in Jesus, that he even rejects the advice of the crowd in Mark 10:48, as the young man of Mark 14 goes against the crowd’s fleeing and desertion of Jesus before they could be subject to any serious risk.

Sixthly, there is the matter of the cloak, linen sheet, and white robe. Bartimaeus throws off (apoballó) his cloak/outer garment (himation) and jumps/rises up, the young man of Mark 14, reminding us of Joseph, leaves behind his linen sheet (sindona; linen undergarment and/or burial cloth as in Mark 15:46), possibly the same linen sheet as that used to bury Jesus, and leaves it behind (kataleipó) and the young man of Mark 16 is found in a white robe (stolen). Jesus’s cloak is turned white during the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3) and is found to heal those who touch it (Mark 5:30). Besides the cloak of Jesus and the cloaks of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11, there is, to my knowledge, no mention of anyone’s cloak besides that of Bartimaeus. Thus, I suggest a speculative, but plausible reconstruction: Bartimaeus throws off his cloak (representing his life as a beggar) in Mark 10 and continues wearing a linen sheet until Mark 14. He continues to follow Jesus through Jesus’s visits to the Temple and to the Mount of Olives. He may or may not have been at the Last Supper. After the Last Supper and the time he overhears Jesus’s words regarding his coming apparition in Galilee, he continues to follow Jesus to Gethsemane. Though the crowd with swords and clubs tries to seize him, he escapes naked. His linen sheet then is sold to a local store. Jesus’s clothes are then divided up among the Roman soldiers. Joseph of Arimathea then buys the linen sheet (which covered the nakedness of Bartimaeus) to cover the nakedness of the dead Jesus. Sometime very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the stone covering the entrance of the tomb is rolled away and Jesus’s body and the linen sheet ascends to heaven and Jesus receives new white clothes in Heaven for him to be seated at the right hand of God, while Bartimaeus receives new white clothes for him to be seated at the right side of the place where Jesus was once laid. Edit (10:44 PM EST): As this author argues, Jesus leaves behind the young man for the young man to wear heavenly clothing Jesus left behind, while the young man leaves behind Jesus for Jesus to be buried in the clothing the young man left behind.

Seventh, the young man of Mark 16 is found to be “sitting to the right”. This is reminiscent of Jesus’s claim to sit at the right hand of power in the last coherent Greek sentence spoken by him in Mark (alluding to Psalm 110:1, the only place where “sitting at the right hand” is mentioned in the Old Testament). The only discussion of sitting at hands in Mark occurs just before Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus (Mark 10:35-45).

Thus, there are several indications that Bartimaeus is the young man of Mark 14 and 16: clothing, not succumbing to peer pressure, following Jesus, Bartimaeus’s messianic awareness, sitting at the right hand, and the “many who are first will be last, and the last, first” statement of Jesus.

I don’t know for certain whether Mark intended the reader to understand that the “young man” of Mark 14 and 16 is the Bartimaeus of Mark 10, but it sure seems like it.

An Honest Map Series of Changes In Political Control of Palestine

Behold, in place of a dishonest map series, an honest one! Be sure to spread it on the Twitters, Websites, and Facebooks, and make it viral!

Why did I pick the years 1946, 1965, 1975, and 2012?
Mid-1946 was a time in which Jordan had already been granted independence by the British, yet the British Mandate for Palestine had not yet expired, British troops in Egypt were still not solely confined to the Suez Canal zone, and the U.N. partition plan for Palestine had still not been created. The map for this year was created to underline the fact that in the years immediately prior to the creation of the State of Israel, Palestine was occupied by the British, not ruled by the natives.
1965 was after the All-Palestine Government had been dissolved by Egypt and after the dissolution of the United Arab Republic, but before the 1967 war.
1975 was chosen to completely avoid depicting the Lebanese Civil War and to accurately show the Israeli gains in the 1967 war and the 1973 ceasefire lines in the Golan Heights.
2012 was the most recent year that had fully gone by at the time this map series was created.

I full well understand my labels are made up of a confusing mix of proper adjectives and proper nouns. Deal with it.

“Occupied” indicates a military presence, but not formal annexation. As the West Bank was formally annexed by Jordan, even though its annexation had little international recognition, I am still marking the West Bank in the second map in Light Green, rather than Dark Green.

I had two difficult decisions to make regarding the coloring of this map: whether or not to color the Sinai Peninsula in red in the first map and whether or not to add a separate color for non-Israeli areas governed by Israeli law. If you consider my decisions incorrect, argue against them in the comments.

A Graph of the Level of the Dead Sea Over Time With Some Archaeological Periods Indicated

Graph taken from http://gvirtzman.es.huji.ac.il/1024×768/publications/pdf/QR-Enzel-et-al.pdf
See Chronology page for explanation.
Note that the Palestinian climate began worsening in the 23rd century BC and continued to worsen well into 15th century BC. Yet, this period of climatic degradation began with the Three Hundred Years’ Anarchy (as I like to call the Intermediate Bronze Age), continued into a revival of Canaanite civilization between the 19th and 16th centuries BC, and ended with another period of destruction, anarchy, and an end to the vast majority of fortified settlements (the Late Bronze IA).
Also, I corrected the coordinates of the location of the Neolithic settlement of ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan, on Wikipedia. You have only me to thank for this.
I have also added a Quotes page today.

The Significance of the Recently-Discovered 10th Century BC Jerusalem Pithos Inscription

I’m sure you’ve already watched this video. If you haven’t, you should; it gives both the findspot of the recently-publicized Jerusalem Pithos Inscription and the comments of epigrapher Shmuel Ahituv. See also the comments of George Athas, who suggests this inscription might be of the Phoenician script tradition*. The translation of the inscription is uncertain. The dating of this inscription to the late 10th century/early 9th century BC (Low Chronology) is probable due to the complete replacement of the Proto-Canaanite script tradition by the Phoenician script tradition in Cisjordan by the early 9th century BC. The Jerusalem Pithos Inscription is, thus, the oldest alphabetic inscription from Jerusalem.

Now, for the significance of the find:
1. This apparently confirms my original suggestion that the Proto-Canaanite script continued to be used into the late 10th century BC (LC) and that the Izbet Sartah inscription is, therefore, likely 10th century, not 12th century (unless Athas is right and this inscription really does come from the Phoenician script tradition, in which case, my suggestion would be unaffected).
2. This find apparently refutes Israel Finkelstein’s conclusion that the area between the City of David and Temple Mount was uninhabited until the 8th century BC (though we’ll have to wait for his analysis of the excavation report, which certainly will be published sometime within the next five years).
*BTW, there are many noticeable differences between the Phoenician script tradition (Early Byblian Inscriptions, Gezer Calendar, Zayit Inscription) and the Proto-Canaanite script tradition (First Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription, Izbet Sartah Ostracon, Safi Sherd).

UPDATE: Athas isn’t right and the script really is Proto-Canaanite, so my first point stands.

Apologist Bullshit From the Director of the National Institutes of Health

So, I decided to watch the film “Religulous“, starring Bill Maher. A good portion of the statements of the faithheads are cringe-worthy. The statements I’m focusing on here are those of Francis Collins, accomodationist ordinaire, who has been cited by many Christian apologists, especially those who pretend they aren’t Christian apologists and don’t take http://xkcd.com/774/ to be satirical, but take it as a serious guide to behavior.
Maher: Now here’s what’s so puzzling; is that you are the one scientist, the one famous scientist, anyway, who’s also religious. Explain that to me.
Collins: I would argue that if you look at the evidence, the historical evidence of Christ’s existence is overwhelming.
Maher: What evidence? I mean, I’ve never even heard anyone propose that there’s evidence…
Collins: When I read the New Testament, it reads to me as the record of eyewitnesses who put down what they saw…
Maher: -You, you, you know they weren’t eyewitnesses.
Collins: They were close to that. They were…
Maher: -No.
Collins: Within a couple of decades of eyewitnesses.
Maher: Okay. Would that stand up in a laboratory as, as, absolute, foolproof evidence that something happened?
Collins: You are setting up a standard for proof that I think would really be an almost impossible standard to meet…

As this is the only glimpse of Collins the director offers us (except for a bit of discussion about Mark&John not including the Virgin Birth in their narratives), it is difficult to make too much of this brief glimpse. However, we could also look at the brief pages 222225 of Collins’s volume of Christian apologetics, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

In fact, here’s a screenshot of the most relevant page for purposes of commentary and criticism:
-Let us start with the interview. Collins states that “the historical evidence of Christ’s existence is overwhelming”. In fact, there is no independent evidence of Jesus’s existence outside the New Testament and a few Church Fathers. All the records of Jesus Christ 1st-2nd century C.E. non-Christian Roman historians record must necessarily have derived from the accounts of Christians-was anyone seriously going to check the penal records of a pile of ash, rocks, and grass? Apparently, Collins does not understand that sources yesterday worked like sources today. Also, all of Paul’s statements about Jesus are fully compatible with an understanding of Jesus as a channeled figure. The authentic Pauline epistles do not indicate Jesus had much of a life before his earthly death. I wonder what kind of eyewitness records have Matthew 4:1-11/Luke 4:1-13 in them. What kind of eyewitness records have Mark 16:8 in them (or, for that matter, the rest of Mark 16, not counting forged endings)? What kind of eyewitness records have suspiciously exact prophecies (Mark 13:14Luke 21:20, the “abomination of desolation” being the Roman army or Roman aquila) with phrases like “let him that reads understand”? Bill Maher is 100% correct that the Gospels are not eyewitness records -they are pious fictions. Maher’s standard for proof is also perfectly reasonable –extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Collins’s starting assumption that writings describing extraordinary events but not explicitly describing the occupations of their authors (thus being essentially anonymous) should be exempted from being suspected fictions or forgeries unless proven otherwise (see the statement in the parentheses in the screenshot) is ridiculous. The “one scholar” is Christian apologist F.F. Bruce. In short, as described here, Francis Collins suspends his critical faculties while reading the Gospels, as does George Grena and the vast majority of Christians.

I also add that fourth century manuscripts aren’t exactly “very early”.

The Watts-Godfrey Dispute, In Conclusion

Certainly the world should have learned by this time that theologians make a mess of everything they touch, including even religion. Yet, in the United States, they are still allowed, against all reason and experience, to have their say in a great variety of important matters, and everywhere they go they leave their sempiternal trail of folly and confusion.


Godfrey should have remembered that Mencken was, as usual, right, and, thus, should not have taken Watts‘s CC License with any seriousness whatsoever and should not have expected Watts to understand the concept of Fair Use, or to have even the slightest bit of common decency.
Godfrey should have remembered his blog was hosted in America, where ignorance of the law is no excuse, and should have remembered that there is a nonzero chance an email from WordPress may have direct relevance to him.
Godfrey should have understood the nature of Gmail Conversation View.
Godfrey should not have falsely stated

You appear to have been shy about telling anyone up front that you were the one responsible for the deactivation of my blog until I chose to publish here the DMCA notice (forwarded to me at my request AFTER the blog was shut down)

— Only THEN did you come out and admit you were the one responsible and then you tried defend yourself by laying all the blame on me.

Watts shouldn’t have been a theologian. This might have reduced his chances of making a mess of everything he touched.
Watts should have remembered his CC license and the concept of Fair Use before thinking of filing a DMCA notice regarding Godfrey‘s copying of his blogpost.
Watts should have contacted Godfrey before the time he filed his DMCA notice to Automattic.
Watts should have understood that hardly anyone ever reads emails from WordPress.
Watts should have understood that WordPress might not necessarily make it perfectly clear to a blogger that WordPress made a post “private” because they considered it to infringe upon another’s copyright.
Watts should have understood that there was a nonzero chance that WordPress might metaphorically kill flies with nuclear weapons (that is, totally shut down a blog for one post a theologian declared copyright-infringing).
Watts should have remembered that Mencken was, as usual, right, and not have forged an email.
Watts should have completely followed the First Rule of Holes.
Watts shouldn’t have made or should have removed the Freudian slip in http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/06/vridar-no-longer-available.html#comment-945928953
Watts shouldn’t have removed his blog’s CC license.
Watts shouldn’t have joked about shutting down people’s blogs on Twitter after claiming to regret that Godfrey suffered the loss of his blog.
Watts should have admitted his email forgery when it was discovered and have given us the exact time it was forged to further knowledge regarding the facts of the dispute.