Thank you to all my blog readers–old and new–for your continued interest in my postings on TaborBlog during 2014. It was a record year by every measure. Total page-views, going back to 2010 when the present metrics were activated, topped 1,000,000 in November, 2014 with 467,877 page-views in 2014 alone. At the end of 2011 we were at just 40, 967–so that is a 10-fold increase in four years! Here is a report that WordPress put together with lots of interesting stats about top posts, countries reached, total traffic, and so forth. I look forward to a fantastic 2015 with lots of new postings and information to come–so bookmark the site and check back often! Click on the image to view a report and then scroll down.
If any of my blog readers have any interest in a hand-crafted Baroque stringed instrument–violin, viola, or cello, my son, Nathan Tabor, who lives in Vienna is one of the best among Luthiers with years of experience and a 100% customer satisfaction rating. He tailors what he makes to the customer and his prices are incredibly reasonable. I love this recent photo of him hard at his craft on which he often spends 12-14 hours a day. Take a look at the web site and if you are interested you can shoot him an e-mail…tell him “James” sent you. http://taborviolas.co.uk
Tomorrow I begin my 36th year of university teaching…1979-2013 marking 35 years. I am as excited as I was the day I first walked into a university classroom in August, 1979 at the University of Notre Dame.
I have been reading Jonathan Z. Smith’s marvelous little book, On Teaching Religion (Oxford, 2013) and I feel like I have been born again. Highly recommended for all teachers in the Humanities. More later on what I am teaching and working on this new academic year–no longer chair but going into high gear in terms of teaching, research, and writing…some amazingly exciting things in the pike.
Today I begin the first day of what I am calling my New Life. I officially stepped down as Chair of our Dept. of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte after 10 years on July 1st, but then there was the Mt Zion dig, the Society of Biblical Literature Conference in Vienna, and last week lots of lose ends to tie up back on campus with the Chair transition, including my last official meeting with the Dean as outgoing Chair. So today marks a new week and a new beginning of a New Life. I return to the honored and privileged status of a Professor of Religious Studies, which means a Teacher first and foremost, a Researcher, and a public Servant. I have also just gained 40+ hours a week of unscheduled time that used to be given to Administrative Duties. Hurray! I am celebrating this day!
If you have any comments you can leave them on my Facebook page here or via Twitter @jamesdtabor. Thanks to all my readers and I look forward to a much more active Blogging life, among many other things.
Below is an intriguing video clip taken from Simcha Jacobovici’s new film “Science of the Soul.” I am not a “believer” in reincarnation so I remain skeptical, though I have to admit, back in the 1960s, like millions of others I read the famous book by Morey Bernstein, “The Search for Bridey Murphy” and found it totally gripping. Since then I have read lots of such things, from Edgar Casey materials, to Gurgjieff, to Shirley McClaine, but never been taken much by the idea. My own approach to “life after death” is one of skepticism, and I find the “silence” of the Hebrew Bible on this point instructive–no mater what turns out to be the case, see my blog post, “Reflections on the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament,” here. I guess all of us are geared up to do our “lab work” on the adventure of life and death soon enough, one by one. In the meantime, I continue to be open.
If you would like to help with the Oklahoma disaster relief you can do so through United Israel. You can either send a check made out to UIWU and marked “Oklahoma Tornado Relief 2013” or more directly via Paypal by using the Donate link below. You do not have to have a PayPal account to donate using your credit card, they are simply the processor:
United Israel has contacts that live very near the area hardest hit and your donations will go toward efforts/organizations that maximize the funds for relief. They will pass along 100% of what is donated, nothing deducted for overhead, and contributions are tax deductible.
The mailing address for checks is:
United Israel World Union
2124 Crown Centre Drive, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28227
I encourage you to contribute any amount, large or small, through whatever charitable organization you choose and together we can reach out to those in this tragedy and make a real difference on the ground in the lives of others.
I have used an iPad since the day they were released. Recently I “upgraded” to the iPad Mini–I say “upgraded” because I have absolutely fallen hard for this little piece of amazing technology and love the Mini even more than the standard size–now passed on in our family. From e-mail, to Web browsing, to blogging, to photos, and even some light “Office” work (I have the iWorks suite with Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), plus the 30 or so most useful applications I have settled on over the past couple of years by trail and error. This device is truly a technical marvel. Thanks you Steve Jobs for this and “all things Apple.”
As a scholar I love Accordance Bible Software most of all–if you think this might be just about the Bible think again. You can compare the various Collections here. I have to pinch myself to even believe that I am carrying around with me in the palm of my hand these thousands of primary sources in all the various original languages.
I am particularly fond of the new digital iPad version of Biblical Archaeology Review. You can get a subscription now for only $19.95 and it is such a pleasure to navigate, scrolling through images of the full pages and being able to search the whole collection. I got a trial some weeks ago and now I am hooked! And then there is the NYTimes, that venerable old Grey Lady gone digital. It can’t be beat and the challenge is how not to spend a morning just browsing. And there are so many other apps that I could go on and on about.
Among my colleagues in the field of Biblical Studies Simcha Jacobovici is seen as one who does documentaries on the Bible, archaeology, and the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. In fact his company, Associated Producers, has produced a wide variety of films with many prestigious awards including three Emmy’s for “Best Documentary.” The latest, which is making its way around the festivals and will air later on HBO, is titled “Tales from the Organ Trade.”
It is controversial and a bit difficult to watch. You can read more about the controversy here, and watch the trailer below. On second thought this has everything to do with “all things Biblical,” the theme of my blog, see the refrain through the Hebrew Prophets about “crushing the heads of the poor” and the repeated calls for justice and righteousness (Isaiah 3:15; Amos 8:3).
As the leafy trees outside become green and lush, the May/June 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is ripe with stories that deal with some much older, drier trees. As a result of earthquakes, Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount had to be dismantled and reconstructed in the 1930s and 1940s. Massive Cedar of Lebanon and cypress beams were reused, and others were simply removed. Some of these beams are significantly older than the mosque itself. Peretz Reuven asks in “Wooden Beams from Herod’s Temple Mount: Do They Still Exist?: Were these timbers from Al-Aqsa once part of Herod’s Temple Mount architecture?”
There is also a fascinating article about Pella by Stephen Bourke dealing with the question of whether the tradition that the early Christians fled to that area before the 70 CE Jewish Roman revolt has any historical validity. I have dealt with this topic on my blog here.
Read more about the fascinating May/June issue here. You can pick up a copy at any good newsstand or better yet, sign up for either a print or digital subscription, or better yet, sign up for the Biblical Archaeology Society Library and get access to everything–past and present. No, I don’t work for BAR nor am I paid to endorse them, I just think there is no value like this anywhere for those interested in this wide range of materials. ((Browse or search over 6,600 articles from 35 years of Biblical Archaeology Review (1975 to present), 20 years of Bible Review (1985 to 2005 complete) and 8 years of Archaeology Odyssey (1998 to 2006 complete).))
Adolf Hitler lived in Vienna from 1908-1913, basically homeless and poor. He fancied himself a painter and his ambition was to be accepted into the Vienna Academy of Art for which he was turned down twice. Since he had dropped out of secondary school he was judged unqualified for entrance. He sold his paintings on the street, lived in a cheap boarding house, and almost froze to death in the winter. After being rejected by the school he went into a depression, deciding that the Jews were running everything and thus would not accept him. Here are some of his paintings, showing he had a fair amount of talent, though some would find them “soulless,” with a sense of light, color, and form but little emotion or individual expression. One can only wonder how different would have been the history of the 20th century had he been accepted into the Art Academy, but one never knows. I highly recommend Ron Rosenbaum’s book, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (Harper Collins, 1998), in which he deals with this very question–the “making of a tyrant,” and how various historians have striven somehow to explain Hitler the person and what he became. For more on this formative period of Hitler’s life, and thus of the history of our modern era, see also Brigitte Hamann, Hitler’s Wein: Lehrjahre Eines Diktators (Piper, 1998).