Thursday, 23 August 2007

Passing away of Volkmar Fritz

will be on leave for a few days to attend to my father-in-law's 80th birthday celebration in sitiawan. so the blog may be quiet for a few days. but here is one piece of sad news:

German Archaeologist Volkmar Fritz Dies at the Age of 69

Prof. Dr. Volkmar Fritz died on August 21, 2007 at the age of 69 in
Bad Schwartau, Germany, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Anke, and four children.

Volkmar came to Israel in 1964 after having completed his theological
studies in Tübingen, Berlin, Heidelberg, Bonn and Marburg, where he
earned his Ph.D. in 1968. Interested in researching the Land of the
Bible and the material culture of ancient Israel, he studied Biblical
Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His archaeological
supervisor was Prof.Yohanan Aharoni, and under his direction, Volkmar
served as an Area Supervisor in the excavations at Arad in the Negev
from 1965-1967. The results of that excavation became the central part
of his Habilitation, which he earned from the University of Mainz in
1973, where he joined the faculty and was responsible for teaching Old
Testament Studies. He was also instrumental in building and expanding
the university's library, making it one of the best in Europe in the
field of Biblical Archaeology. Later, he was appointed as full
professor in Old Testament at the University of Giessen.

Volkmar was committed in his research to applying archaeological data
to the German tradition of biblical analysis, and as a result he made
a significant contribution not only to combining the two disciplines,
but also to creating a greater understanding between German and
Israeli archaeologists. He was the first German scholar after the
Second World War to obtain a license to conduct an excavation in
Israel. Together with his Israeli colleague, the late Prof. Aharon
Kempinski, he directed the excavations at Tel Masos in the Negev from
1972-1975, which made a major contribution to our understanding of the
early history of ancient Israel. Subsequently, he directed the
excavations of Tell el-Oreme/Tel Kinrot on the northwestern shore of
the Sea of Galilee from 1982-1985 and conducted two small digs at
Feinan in Jordan in 1990. During his tenure as Director of the German
Protestant Institute of Archaeology on the Mount of Olives in
Jerusalem from 1994-1999, he returned to his dig at Tel Kinrot. These
excavations demonstrated that the site was one of the largest towns in
ancient Israel in the Iron Age I, and provided important evidence for
the Neo-Assyrian conquest of northern Israel in 733 BCE.

In 2003, he returned to Tel Kinrot for a visit, but he was already
greatly weakened by the Parkinson's disease that had begun a few years
previously. Although he was unable to excavate again himself, he was
happy in the knowledge that the work he had begun would go on in the
hands of his former students from Switzerland, Germany and Finland,
who are now responsible for the Kinneret Regional Project.

While Volkmar published a myriad of articles on various aspects of the
archaeology of ancient Israel, a major focus of his research was on
the architecture of public buildings, temples, palaces and domestic
housing. Two of his most important publications dealt with these
subjects: The City in Ancient Israel and An Introduction to Biblical
Archaeology, both of which appeared in German and in English. To his
credit, nearly all of his excavations have been fully published – like
his reports on Kinneret: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen auf dem Tell
el-Oreme am See Gennesaret, 1982-1985 and Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen
auf der Hirbet el-Msas (Tel Mašoš) 1972-1975 (co-authored with Prof.
Kempinski). In addition, his last excavations, which were only begun
10 years ago, will be published in the near future. He was not only a
productive archaeologist, but also wrote important commentaries on the
Old Testament, like Das erste Buch der Könige.

Volkmar's warmth, kindness and fine sense of humor greatly endeared
him to all his friends. He gave generously of his knowledge and
experience and took great pleasure in the successes of his students.
He left an indelible mark on the field of Biblical Archaeology, and
will be sorely missed by his colleagues and students.

This is sad news indeed. May he rest in peace.

Monday, 20 August 2007

NT and OT Colloqium No. 1

to kick start the planned joint NT/OT colloqium, let me start with an NT topic (for the sake of the budding NT scholar).

the issue of Paul and James has been a contentious issue. were the two guys poles apart in their thinking and theology? were each writing to counter the teaching/emphasis of the other? was James, as some people think, actually writing to support Paul? or is the traditional understanding (from luther downwards) correct that each was writing to a different audience and hence a different emphasis (yet contradictory)?

one rather ingenious scholar on the biblical studies list cut and pasted tetxs from paul's epistles and james' epistle to show a possible correlation between them) see the below quoted text:

Paul: We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. 2:15,16

James: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active among his works, and faith was completed by works 2:31,32

Paul: "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness". So you see that it is men of faith who are sons of Abraham. 3:6,7

James: And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God." You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 2:23,24

Paul: All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book, and do them." Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He who through faith is righteous shall live"; but the law does not rest on faith, for "He who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law..." 3:10-13

James: Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. (2:10) Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing. 1:22-25

Paul: Before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. 3:23-25

James: As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. 2:26

Paul: Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? 3:2

James: If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. 1:26 Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 4:11

so, the issue is simple: were Paul and James on opposite poles? or were they actually on the same end of the spectrum? what do you think? queries to the budding nt scholar can be redirected from this blog to his.