Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fists of Fury

I actually wrote this post a few days back, but it seems that it got stuck in the editing stage and did not post. I only found this out tonight.

They nearly came to blows in class today. The near fisticuffs was over whether the bible says there was a palace inside the city walls of Jerusalem or not. This class, "text and archaeology", is a wonderful experience. It's at the master's level and there are some "brains the size of planets" in the class (not to mention egos). Finkelstein, the prof, is a (perhaps "the") world expert on biblical archaeology, and he is no small personality. Yet even he struggles to control the class. It often breaks down into heavy argument. There's the people who, oh, so want the bible to be proven, and those that just want there to have been a major kingdom in the past. Then there are those that don't believe anything written in the bible and view it as a sort of Jewish version of the Brother's Grimm Tales. There are acknowledged experts in Shashak's Campaign (was it a campaign or was it an extended economic interaction) and experts in LaMelech jars. All this in just twelve students.

In all my years at college (till now) I never heard anyone shout "I know five classical languages and have read Josephus in Greek and the German school in German" only to be put in his place by a proto-doctor quipping "that may be true but you don't know the bible". We had to hold them back to stop a blood bath in Gilman 260.

Computer science is so boring in comparison. There's never any blood. As the National Geographic article I pointed to a while back wisely stated "only in Israel is archaeology a contact sport". It is such fun.