Reviews


Quest for Immortality exhibit, hosted by the National Gallery of Art

Remaining tour schedule

About the exhibit (from the web site)
From the earliest times, Egyptians denied the physical impermanence of life. They formulated a remarkably complex set of religious beliefs and funneled vast material resources into the quest for immortality. This exhibition focuses on the understanding of the afterlife among Egyptians some 3,000 years ago, in the period of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC) through the Late Period (664-332 BC). The New Kingdom marked the beginning of an era of great wealth, power, and stability for Egypt, and was accompanied by a burst of cultural activity, much of which was devoted to the quest for eternal life.

The exhibition is divided into six sections: Journey to the Afterworld, The New Kingdom, The Royal Tomb, Tombs of Nobles, The Realm of the Gods, and The Tomb of Thutmose III.

Visit the online exhibit

See the NPR story

Osiris
Osiris resurrecting
Twenty-sixth Dynasty, 664-525 BC
gneiss, with a headdress in electrum and gold
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Copyright National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

The Armchair Archaeologist gives “The Quest for Immortality” exhibit five-helmets Five helmet rating

Check your local public library for accompany public free lectures given in association with the exhibit.

BookCities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome

According to the book description Stark argues for the following:

How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers? Who listened to this “good news,” and who ignored it? Where did Christianity spread, and how? Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, preeminent scholar and journalist Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church, overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the world.

Drawing on both archaeological and historical evidence, Stark is able to provide hard statistical evidence on the religious life of the Roman Empire to discover the following facts that set conventional history on its head:

  • Contrary to fictions such as The Da Vinci Code and the claims of some prominent scholars, Gnosticism was not a more sophisticated, more authentic form of Christianity, but really an unsuccessful effort to paganize Christianity.
  • Paul was called the apostle to the Gentiles, but mostly he converted Jews.
  • Paganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression following the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the temples in response to the superior appeal of Christianity.
  • The “oriental” faiths—such as those devoted to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love and magic, and to Cybele, the fertility goddess of Asia Minor—actually prepared the way for the rapid spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire.
  • Contrary to generations of historians, the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism posed no challenge to Christianity to become the new faith of the empire— it allowed no female members and attracted only soldiers.

By analyzing concrete data, Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of more than one-third of the earth’s population.

Who is Rodney Stark?

Rodney StarkRodney Stark is the University Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University. His twenty-six books on the history and sociology of religion include The Rise of Christianity; One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism; For the Glory of God, which won the 2004 award of merit for history/biography from Christianity Today; and The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success.

Stark’s vitae

Stark’s Baylor web page

Stark’s personal web site

The Armchair Archaeologist gives Cities of God

As an amateur archaeologist, enthusiast, student, armchair archaeologist, is there value in becoming a member of a museum like the Oriental Institute Museum (OIM) in Chicago? Well, most museums do list some generous benefits as does OIM.

OIM Chicago

OIM Chicago lists the following as benefits of joining as a member:

  1. Free subscription to their member newsletter
  2. A print copy of the Annual Report. Sample back years are online.
  3. Special invitations to programs, dinners, lectures, etc.
  4. Discounts in the museum shop and on Institute publications.
  5. Discounts on seminars, workshops, symposia, etc.
  6. Use of Research Archives (electronic resources)

These benefits are generous and if you live near Chicago and/or you take an annual archaeological pilgrimage to Chicago then the membership benefits of the OIM are excellent.

If you have never visited the OIM in Chicago then how can you even call yourself and armcharian? It has one of the finest ancient Near East collections in the world. Plus, Wrigley Field is close enough to catch the Cubbies in action.

If you’re not a member of the OIM please join. Friends of the Institute membership prices range from $40 to $75 annually.

Why not plan an annual trip to Chicago, perhaps with a former prof or student, and spend plenty of time at the OIM, then see the Cubs play at Wrigley? Make it a long weekend.

The Armchair Archaeologist gives the Oriental Institute Museum

4 helmets

The only reason the OIM does not get five helmets is because their web site is embarrassing. Their is a lot of data and resources accsible from it but it is like having to crawl on all fours through an Egyptian pyramid labrynth under ground in the dark.

NIV Archaeological Study Bible

Review of the NIV Archaeological Study Bible – part two.

See part one

As long as you don’t mind the NIV translation the NIV Archaeological Study Bible is definitely the best Bible-resource for the avid enthusiast of Bible archaeology. It is published by Zondervan. Having been a long-time user of the NIV, for over 15 years, I think I will return to the NIV Archaeological Study Bible as my Bible-of-daily-use because of the archaeological benefits of this superb resource. The web site offers a FREE sampler in pdf format.
Features one notices in the first 30 minutes or so include . . . .
1. It’s a single column text with single coumn reference notes, which I like much more than double column formats.

2. There are tons of high-quality color pictures throughout the Bible. It almost seems like there is one on every page but there are officially some 500 color photographs.

3. There are a variety of articles, giving the reader a solid general exposure to many topics in Biblical archaeology. There are five major categories of articles:

  • Archaeological Sites
  • Cultural and Historical Notes
  • Ancient Peoples and Lands
  • The Reliability of the Bible
  • Ancient Texts and Artifacts

4. There are over 8,000 bottom-of-page study notes. Not as comprehensive as the excellent NIV Study Bible Notes, but quite useful for this particular Bible.
This review will be continued soon…..

The Armchair Archaeologist gives the Zondervan Archaeological Study Bible four helmets.
Four helmets

NIV Archaeological Study Bible

Review of the NIV Archaeological Study Bible – part one.

As long as you don’t mind the NIV translation the NIV Archaeological Study Bible is definitely the best Bible-resource for the avid enthusiast of Bible archaeology. It is published by Zondervan.

If one goes by first impressions I noticed the following when I first examined the Archaeological Study Bible.

1. The cover box is very nicely designed. There is a cut-out swatch-area to allow the potential buyer to see what the cover material looks and feels like. This review is based on the BLACK top grain leather version [0-310-92607-6].

2. It is thicker, thus heavier, than most other study/reference Bibles I have seen.

3. It comes with FREE software (CD-format) with the complete NIV Bible, photograpghs, charts and graphs.

4. The Top Grain version is not cheap, weighing in at $89.99 at Lifeway Bookstores.
5. The paper has generous thickness and each page has the look of faded papyri around the edges. The “new Bible smell” was also nice for the Top Grain version.

This review will be continued soon…..

The Armchair Archaeologist gives the Zondervan Archaeological Study Bible four helmets.
Four helmets

One of the finest exhibits displaying fragments and/or complete texts on the Bible is the ‘Ink and Blood‘ exhibit, now touring the United States.

Their web site states:

Authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments are just one part of an extraordinary display of rare ancient Biblical manuscripts and historic Bibles traveling the country. This once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, known officially as Ink & Blood: Sacred Treasures of the Bible, contains fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, including portions of Genesis and Isaiah, and numerous Bibles including a medieval manuscript Wyclif Bible from the 15th Century, the first translation of the Holy Book into English.

Click here to view a complete list of the artifacts on exhibit

1536 Tyndale New Testament

1536 Tyndale English NewTestament

The Armchair Archaeologist attended the Ink and Blood Exhibit in Lexington, KY.

It gets a 4 1/2 helmet rating.

4 and a half helmets

It’s being hailed as “the largest touring exhibit of Sacred text, Biblical art and artifacts in history” – From Abraham to Jesus.

The Armchair Archaeologist gives it “4 helmets” (what’s this?).

Four Helmets

The web site says, “From Abraham to Jesus is the can’t miss event of the year. This groundbreaking touring exhibit features the largest most breathtaking, collection of Holy Land antiquities to ever hit U.S. soil. The multi-media exhibit combines the awe of over 340 priceless artifacts, some dating back to the time of Abraham, original video footage shot throughout the Holy Land, and the power of modern multimedia technology presentation, propelling visitors on a landmark walk through 2,500 years of Biblical history that they will never forget. This event will also feature the U.S. inaugural visit of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Ossuary (bone box) of Alexander, son of Simon the Cyrene, the man who carried the cross for Jesus. This stunning 30,000 square foot walk-through exhibit will travel to 28 cities nationwide, beginning September 2006 and concluding December 2008. ”

Present cities on tour?

COLUMBUS, OHIO
November 13, 2006 – November 26
Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 North High Street

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
December 6, 2006 – December 24, 2006

“From Abraham to Jesus” is a high-tech entertainment experience. It uses photomurals, thematic sets, digital surround sound, the first 3D video shot in Israel, state-of-the-art lighting and narration, combined with a musical score produced by national recording artist Don Moen, to help visitors see, hear and feel 2,500 years of biblical history.

Tickets range from $6.00 to $19.95 a piece. Discounts for groups are available.

Visit the official web site to learn more.