The Bible's Buried Secrets

Ask the Experts

Hundreds of people sent in questions for our three biblical scholars. We are no longer accepting submissions, but below you can find audio responses addressing a wide variety of topics. Answers to some of your specific questions may also be found in the experts' interviews and other features on "The Bible's Buried Secrets" website, or through our Links & Books.

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Carol Meyers

Carol Meyers
Professor of Religion
Duke University

Interview | Bio

From Ed, Pennsylvania The NOVA broadcast mentioned that Judaism introduced the idea of worshipping a single god to the world. Wasn't this done even earlier by Zoroastrianism? From Richard Williams, Houston, TX I am surprised that the program did not mention the first use of monotheism as being the worship of the sun (the Amarna theology) by Amenhotep IV, a.k.a. Akhenaton. Doesn't this change in the traditional Egyptian way of worship, which resulted in an almost complete destruction of Akhenaton's memory, warrant even a suggestion as perhaps an early origin of monotheism? Listen:

Running time: 1:56

From David Teschner, Petersburg, VA What is the time frame for the origins of the Passover? Would that ritual, like circumcision, stem from the period of the Babylonian Exile? Listen:

Running time: 2:01

From A. Trepanier, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada I wondered about the Joseph stories. Are there any records of this figure in Egypt? It seems that this figure is the missing link to the Exodus, if indeed there was such a journey. From Judy Schooley, Virginia Beach, VA Could the escapees from Egypt be descendants of "Israelis" who arrived with the Hyksos (Joseph legend) and later may have joined with Akhenaton's one God attempt and thus became second-class citizens or slaves after he died? Listen:

Running time: 1:55

Carol Meyers is the Mary Grace Wilson Professor of Religion at Duke University. She serves as director of Duke's Undergraduate Studies in Religion and administers its Graduate Program in Hebrew Bible. She also codirects Duke's summer-in-Israel program and is an affiliated faculty member of Duke's Women's Studies Program. Meyers received her A.B. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D., in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, from Brandeis University. A specialist in biblical studies and archeology, she is also a prominent scholar in the study of women in the biblical world. She has authored, edited, or coauthored 16 books and hundreds of articles and reviews.

William Dever

William Dever
Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies
University of Arizona

Interview | Bio

From Tim Hurlbutt, Champaign, IL The explanations of the origins of Israelite towns around 1200 B.C.E. that rely on social, economic, or religious motivations for the movements from the Canaan plain to the hill country seem to ignore the most likely possibility—flight from danger. That period witnessed the destruction of Late Bronze Age sites throughout the eastern Mediterranean, followed by major societal collapses. Shouldn't the events in Canaan be interpreted with this in mind? Listen:

Running time: 0:41

From C. Mettler, Aurora, CO What is the current status of the gold chariot wheel hub that was pulled from the Sea of Aqaba? I understand it was examined by Nassif Mohammed Hassan, Director of Antiquities in Cairo. Has anyone been back to the mountain Jebel El Lawz in Arabia to examine the altar and artifacts there? Listen:

Running time: 0:25

From Brad Gould, New York, NY I found "The Bible's Buried Secrets" a thoroughly fascinating program, but I was surprised there was no mention of either Pharaoh Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV, who reigned circa 1350 B.C.), nor the Habiru described in various hieroglyphs. Is this because there was no direct linkage to the accounts recorded in the early books of the Bible? Listen:

Running time: 1:09

From Sam Rotter, Canada The "Sea People" are purported to have wrought havoc throughout the Mediterranean shortly after the siege of Troy around 1250 B.C.E. Mycenae and most of the city-states of Greece were devastated, and the threat of the "Sea People" is even mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as pictured in wall drawings. What impact did they have on the revolutionary changes that were talked about regarding Canaan and involving Joshua? Listen:

Running time: 1:03

William Dever received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1966. Active in the field of biblical archeology since 1955, he has published 26 books and more than 350 articles as well as supervised nearly 30 Ph.D. students. Dever has led numerous field research and excavation projects in Jordan, Israel, and Gezer. He joined the faculty of the University of Arizona in 1975, serving as head of the Department of Oriental Studies (1978–1981) and of the Department of Near Eastern Studies (1989–1994). Dever has been awarded such prestigious honors as the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, The Percia Schimmel Prize for distinction in archeology, and the Charles U. Harris Service Award.

Michael Coogan

Michael Coogan
Professor of Religious Studies
Stonehill College

Interview | Bio

From John Fick, Irving, PA Is there evidence that other ancient cultures believed in Yahweh? If so, what distinguished these beliefs from other religious ideas at that time? Listen:

Running time: 0:30

From Anonymous I have seen reference to Yahweh as a Volcano God in the Sinai during the polytheistic period. Is there any truth to this story? Listen:

Running time: 0:45

From Carlos, Chicago, IL Does the name Yahweh translate in English to Jehovah? Listen:

Running time: 0:33

From Kevin McKinney, Philadelphia, PA The implications of inventing stories and "borrowing" myths and characters from other cultures seem to have been overlooked in the conclusion that Judaism and the Ten Commandments are the foundations of Western Civilization. Isn't the Decalogue modeled on a much earlier, secular code (Hammurabi's Code)? Listen:

Running time: 0:47

Michael Coogan is Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College and Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He also has taught at Harvard University, Boston College, Wellesley College, Fordham University, and the University of Waterloo (Ontario). Coogan is author of The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, and he has edited and contributed to standard reference works in biblical scholarship, including The Oxford Companion to the Bible and The Oxford History of the Biblical World. He has also led and participated in archeological excavations in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Egypt. Coogan earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1971.

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