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Ancient history Book excerpts Old Testament

How Did the Urim and Thummim in the Bible Work?

When the Urim and Thummim are identified [in the Old Testament] with the gems of the breastpiece, light is often associated with them. 4QpIsa i 4–6 can be interpreted in this way. Josephus clearly links a miraculous light with the divine revelation. The oracular shining or dimming of a stone on the breastpiece is also found in subsequent Jewish and Samaritan tradition.

Categories
Ancient history Book excerpts Old Testament

Who Is Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Melchizedek is a fragmentary exegetical work from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection (11QMelch) that may be classified as a thematic pesher.1 The author quotes or alludes to biblical passages2 and reveals their true hidden meaning in connection with his main theme: the eschatological victory of good over evil.

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Ancient history

What Are the Copper Scrolls?

The Copper Scrolls were discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. As the name implies, these scrolls were written on copper (rather than animal skin or papyrus). Curiously, the Copper Scrolls detail the supposed location of hidden Jerusalem temple treasures—and they’ve even been used as a treasure map by fortune hunters. In this interview, the noted scholar George J. Brooke explains more.

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Ancient history

How Did Early Christians Observe the Sabbath?

The exact ways in which Christians have observed the Sabbath Day or the Lord’s Day have varied, even after the time of the New Testament. There are also specific reasons why Sabbath observance has been tied to both Saturday and Sunday. In this interview, Jason R. Combs discusses how ancient Christians observed the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day.

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Ancient history Old Testament

Did the Jerusalem Temple Really Have Treasures?

The Jerusalem Temple treasures are rumored to have been hidden or stolen in association with conflicts like the First Jewish Revolt—if they existed at all. Interestingly, archaeological evidence such as the Arch of Titus suggests that Romans absconded with riches like a menorah. A Hebrew text called Massekhet Kelim also leaves tantalizing clues—and is (mis)used as a treasure map by modern enthusiasts. In this interview, biblical scholar Elena Dugan explains more.

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Ancient history New Testament

Was Jesus a Rabbi?

The Gospels repeatedly designate Jesus as a rabbi. For some, the term adds an extra layer of depth to the historical Jesus. But it’s not that simple for everyone. For example, calling Jesus a rabbi associates him with Judaism. It also reinforces his role as a historical figure. Both implications go against the grain of certain ideologies. In this interview, Mary Magdalene author Bruce Chilton explains more—and reflects on reactions to his book, Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography.

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Ancient history New Testament

What Was the First Jewish Revolt?

The siege of Jerusalem of 70 CE was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War. Culminating in the destruction of the city and of the temple, the revolt and subsequent war were a tragedy that impacted the future of Judaism and Christianity as well as the New Testament. This interview with Jared W. Ludlow discusses the First Jewish Revolt.

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Ancient history Old Testament

Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Contain the New Testament?

The Dead Sea Scrolls sparked a newfound interest in the Bible when they were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s. The fragments include significant portions of the Old Testament, but not New Testament texts. Similarly, claims about their unique connection to Latter-day Saint beliefs and practices fail to consider that relevant scrolls include only a few vaguely defined passages. In this interview, BYU’s Dana M. Pike explains more.


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Ancient history New Testament

Who Was Mary Magdalene?

The account of Mary Magdalene in the Bible is only the beginning of her story, according to fictional accounts like The Davinci Code. But legend has a way of overshadowing history. In the case of Mary Magdalene, asking only if she was married to Jesus overlooks her contributions. In this interview, biographer Bruce Chilton tells the story of Jesus’ most pivotal female follower.

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Ancient history New Testament

Did Herod the Great Claim to Be the Messiah?

Herod the Great is perhaps best known for the massacre of the innocents portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew. Interestingly, many scholars believe that Herod claimed to be a messiah, and Ehud Netzer’s discovery of King Herod’s tomb at Herodium led to additional evidence. In this interview, biblical archaeologist and Masada expert Jodi Magness expounds on her related article in the Journal of Ancient Judaism.

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