Sunday, August 03, 2008

The "Proof" Canard

I've criticized interpretations of archaeological finds as proving or disproving this or that biblical narrative before, and today Ha'aretz brings us another annoying example of the tendency:
"Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a seal impression belonging to a minister of the biblical King Zedekiah, which dates back 2,600 years, during an archeological dig in Jerusalem's ancient City of David. The finding helps corroborate the story pertaining to the biblical minister's demand to have the prophet Jeremiah killed.

"The seal impression, or bulla, with the name Gedalyahu ben Pashur, who served as minister to King Zedekiah (597-586 BCE) according to the Book of Jeremiah, was found completely intact just meters away from a separate seal impression of another of Zedekia's ministers, Yehukual ben Shelemyahu, which was unearthed three years ago.

"Both ministers are mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38 1-4) along with two other ministers when they came to King Zedekiah demanding the death of the prophet Jeremiah for preaching to the besieged city to surrender."

Look, that is the kind of biblical story that I find perfectly believable, but these seals have nothing to do with it any more than historical proof that Nero was once Rome's emperor prove that he fiddled while Rome burned. The blame here probably goes to the headline writer, though, as opposed to the reporter, as it's the headline that reads, "Archaeologists unearth proof of plot to kill Prophet Jeremiah."



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