2015-01-11

Ideological Archaeology in Israel, Greek beauty, Coffee and the Paranormal

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by Neil Godfrey

Some articles I’ve found interesting this past week:

The Connection Between Archaeology and Ideology in the Middle East in Counterpunch (h/t Otagosh)

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a speech/article by Uri Avnery. In the desperation to find confirmation of the Biblical stories after the 1967 war Moshe Dayan and others swept away all the top layers of Ottomans, Arab/Crusader, Byzantine, Roman, Greek and Persian eras and found nothing. They had very likely pushed aside their real history. Excerpt:

Even if one would like to believe that the Bible only exaggerates real events, the fact is that not even a tiny mention of the exodus, the conquest of Canaan or King David has been found.

They just did not happen.

IS THIS important? Yes and no.

The Bible is not real history. It is a monumental religious and literary document, that has inspired untold millions throughout the centuries. It has formed the minds of many generation of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

But history is something else. History tells us what really happened. Archeology is a tool of history, an invaluable tool for the understanding of what took place.

These are two different disciplines, and never the twain shall meet. For the religious, the Bible is a matter of belief. For non-believers, the Hebrew Bible is a great work of art, perhaps the greatest of all. Archeology is something entirely different: a matter of sober, proven facts.

Israeli schools teach the Bible as real history. This means that Israeli children learn only its chapters, true or fictitious. When I once complained about this in a Knesset speech, demanding that the full history of the country throughout the ages be taught, including the chapters of the Crusades and the Mamelukes, the then minister of education started to call me “the Mameluke”.

If that’s too political for you you might prefer more philosophical reading. Salon.com has an extract from David Konstan’s book, “Beauty: The Fortunes of an Ancient Greek Idea” :

The secret history of beauty: How the Greeks invented Western civilization’s biggest idea — (People think of beauty as universal to the human experience. But the truth is actually much more complicated)

Conclusion — some interesting openings into understanding the breadth of human experience:

If beauty turns out to be a problematic concept for us, it may be less surprising to discover that some cultures may make do perfectly well without it or—if they do have such a notion (as I believe the ancient Greeks did)—may define and understand it in ways sufficiently different from ours to shed some light on our own difficulties and possibly on ways to resolve or circumvent them.

Regarding the Greeks in particular, we may be able to see how the modern conception of beauty, with whatever baggage of contradictions and tensions it carries, emerged in the first place, since Greek works of art and Greek ideas about art had a massive influence on the Western tradition, even if they were sometimes misunderstood (not that this is necessarily a terrible thing: misunderstanding is one of the great sources of creativity).

A cup of Turkish coffee served on a terrace in...

A cup of Turkish coffee served on a terrace in Istanbul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salon.com had another most encouraging article, a reprint of an article by Tori Rodriguez first published in the Scientific American —

Coffee and tea may protect the brain

We coffee addicts have lower rates of depression and cognitive decline!

And if you needed a refresher on some classic paranormal hoaxes Cheryl Eddy has posted a convenient summary:

The 10 Most Notorious Paranormal Hoaxes in History  (h/t Mano Singham)

 

 

 

2 Comments

  • Mark Erickson
    2015-01-11 17:14:03 UTC - 17:14 | Permalink

    Another great recent article is “”Looking to the Future of the Study of Christian Origins: The Ecstatic Perception of Evolving Complexities” at Bible and Interpretation. But don’t let the title scare you away. It has some academicese in it, but the subject is fascinating. Sandmel, Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, Postcolonial studies, it has it all!

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-01-11 19:54:35 UTC - 19:54 | Permalink

      Ah, you beat me to it. Yes, I was planning another post that included reference to that article by Hanges. I am very keen to get a hold of Hanges 2012 book and have ordered a related one that appears in his bibliography. Expect related posts.

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