Of the hundreds of different animals named in the Bible, the cat lovers among us might be disturbed to find that there is no mention of their beloved companion/house-guest in the Bible.
Were there no cats in biblical Israel?
Confidently identifying the presence of the domestic cat (Felis Silvestris catus), rather than its ‘wild,’ untamed cousins in any ancient setting is difficult. The process of domestication, for most animals, creates certain stresses that result in morphological changes; for example, there is often a reduction in size (see Clutton-Brock, 1981: 21-22; Borowski, 1998: 24-27). Consequently, identifying changes like these can make it possible to distinguish between domestic and wild strains. However, cats tend (at least initially*) to lack such clear markers of domestication. One reason for this might be due to their rather aloof demeanour that often characterises their relationships with humans. Borowski (1998:144) argues that this meant that humans could not so easily control their breeding as they could with other animals. The process of domestication could therefore have emerged from the development of a negotiated collaborative/symbiotic relationship between cats and humans rather than selective breeding (see Driscoll et al., 2009; Russell, 2012: 217). This general lack of evidence for a human-controlled breeding regime creates problems when trying to identify between domestic and wild cats. Current thinking suggests that feline domestication – or the forming of a relationship between human and felines – occurred roughly 5-6000 years ago. Although a recent studyby Andrew Kitchenerof an apparent burial of a cat with its owner in Cyprus has pushed that date back to about 9000 years (see below). Nevertheless, whether wild or domesticated, zooarcheological evidence shows that cats were living in the ancient Levant at the time of biblical Israel; for example, remains of cats were found during excavations of Neolithic Jericho, ca. 7000 BCE (Borowski, 1998:114). If cats were present in biblical Israel, why then is there this silence about them in biblical writings? Continue reading →
Cancellation of Dr Jim West’s talk on the Intersection of Academy and Pew (5th January)
I am really sorry to announce that we are having to cancel tomorrow’s (5th January) talk by Jim West on the Intersection of Academy and Pew.
Jim flew into Britain on Sunday for SOTS and developed flu-like symptoms almost immediately. Unfortunately these have progressed to a full blown fever and loss of voice. Understandably, he feels that he is not in a position to be able to give his talk. He wants me to pass on his apologies and that feels awful about letting people down’.
There has been a lot of interest in this talk and so we are looking at ways that we can re-schedule for another time when Jim is in the country.
Please accept our apologies to those who were looking forward to this event and had made special preparations for it.
The angelic announcement to Joseph is often quoted on Christmas cards and social media memes. However, there is a deeper, and altogether darker, significance to them (for Joseph) that can be easily missed, as this post from last year shows…
One of the things that provoked discussion at last week’s Advent Seminar concerned a remark made by Leon Morris (1992: 29) that the angel’s instruction that “[Mary] will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus…” (Matt 1:21a) is, in the context of Mary’s predicament, highly significant.
It is important to remember that in pre-industrial societies marriage was not simply an agreement between two individuals, but a contract between two families. In ancient Mediterranean cultures, betrothal would have usually been initiated with a meal at the woman’s parent’s home (M. Pesachim 3:7), this would also be attended by the payment of an indirect dowry (M. Ketubot 5.2); a negotiated payment by the ‘groom’s’ family paid to the betrothed couple. This would have been part of the overall Bride-wealth.
VIOLATION AND BETRAYAL
Therefore, Mary’s unexpected pregnancy was not only a violation of sexually appropriate behaviour, but it could have…
Great news – Issue 2 of the Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting (JJMJS 2-2015), from Eisenbrauns, is now out. It is turning out to be an extremely valuable (if not essential) resource for anyone with an interest in the forming church and New Testament studies.
The first will be on Paul’s use of the scriptures in his writings. Steve will be making special reference to this in light of the recent work by NT Wright.
Steve will then be leading a research seminar on ‘Was the Birth of Jesus According to Scripture.‘ This session will examine the claim that the events recorded in the Nativity accounts were prophesied in Israel’s scriptures and asks, can this claim still be accepted today? His paper will explore the findings of historical criticism and asks whether it operates with too narrow an understanding of truth. Continue reading →