Monday, December 17, 2007

You Know, Nebo-Sarsekim? The Guy with the Really High Voice?

Somehow I missed this one back in July, but it popped up in Archeology's Top 10 Discoveries of 2007: an Assyriologist (now that's a job title) at the British Musem was translating a Babylonian cuneiform tablet, and he found a reference to "chief eunuch" Nebo-Sarsekim. Here was the guy's reaction, according to Archeology:

"At first I was just pleased to have found a reference to the title 'chief eunuch,' as these officials are mentioned very rarely in the sources. Then it suddenly came to me that this text was very close chronologically to an episode narrated in Jeremiah 39 in which Nebo-Sarsekim is mentioned, and that I might actually have found the very man. So then I got quite excited and instantly went and checked (and double-checked) the exact spelling of the name in the Hebrew Bible and saw that it matched what I had found in the Babylonian text!"

Props to this translator for knowing Jeremiah 39 cold. Apparently the dates on the tablet line up with the dates in the Bible, giving historical legitimacy to the book of Jeremiah and making this, according to the Telegraph, "the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years.”

Or is it? Pepperdine University religion professor Chris Heard weighs in on his blog, Higgaion:

"The Telegraph doesn’t say who has so labeled the translation of this tablet, but the claim itself is idiotic. No way is this find more important than the Dead Sea Scrolls, the House of the Bullae, or the Tel Dan inscription, to name but three possible contenders."

It does, however, trump that dubious Gospel of Judas thing.

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