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 Bob Bloomberg, Pikesville, MD What was the environment like in the region around the time of the Exodus? Was it as arid as it is now and, if so, how did the populace grow food and feed their flocks? Listen:

Running time: 1:55

From Samuel Browning, Norwich, CT In the program there was a reference to the possibility that Moses had received his "burning bush" revelation outside a small town in what is now Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and that this town had hosted formally enslaved Canaanites who had migrated home and also had previously used a monotheistic god. I'm interested if this town has ever been located, a dig was conducted, and if so what was learned? Listen:

Running time: 1:37

From Anonymous I am a retired layperson who likes to read about Jewish history. Many historical readings seem to suggest that the Exodus took place in the time of the Pharaoh Ahmoses and not Rameses because Ahmoses forced the Hyksos out of the country about l550 B.C., and the Semitic peoples living there were forced out or enslaved at the same time. Ahmoses also was a builder of his capital city, which was stopped suddenly while in progress. He seems like a better candidate than Rameses since he would not have been as militarily strong as Rameses. What do you think? Listen:

Running time: 3:10

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 Hayward Henry, Dallas, TX I am interested in the Ark of the Covenant. Many have laid claim to its location, but do we have up-to-date information about its possible whereabouts? Listen:

Running time: 0:35

From Mike Quinn, Paoli, PA It appears we rely on dating some artifacts by carbon dating the organic objects found near them, but doesn't this require a huge assumption that the two items came together at the same time? One item could have been there hundreds of years before the other showed up next to it. Is there some measure of probability assigned to this technique? From Laura, Bloomington, IN Regarding the use of carbon dating olive pits to determine the age of pottery and other artifacts in the same layer: Has it occurred to anyone that the said pits were considered garbage by the inhabitants of their time, and as such were buried in a hole at an older layer than the pits themselves reflect? Listen:

Running time: 1:13

From Randy Johnson, Spartanburg, SC It was mentioned that the temple at Ain Dara had the same dimensions as Solomon's Temple, which has not been found. Does it logically make more sense to you that the writers of the Bible had no temple of their own to work with and "borrowed" Ain Dara like the Great Flood story was borrowed from Gilgamesh? Listen:

Running time: 0:52

From Robert Quay, Broomall, PA Soundings in the Black Sea have revealed evidence of human occupation along ancient shorelines now at the sea bottom. Speculation is that people escaping from the filling of the deep, warm, Eden-like valley passed along the stories of their flight from the water that are now enshrined as world-spanning floods found in many traditions and religions throughout the western world. Might it be that Noah's biblical flood is an echo, so to speak, of this event? Listen:

Running time: 0:43

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 Lynne Monds, Santa Barbara, CA I was taught as a child that YHWH came from the Hebrew letters "Yud Heh Vav Heh," meaning "I AM That I AM." In the King James version of the Bible, the name given from the burning bush is actually translated "I AM That I AM." Can you comment on this? Listen:

Running time: 0:31

From Anonymous Why animal sacrifice? I have always wondered about this need from early times around the world to engage in animal sacrifice—it appears it was almost universal. When did the Israelites change their religion so that animal sacrifice was not a part of it?

Thanks for your help with this. It seems hard for me to understand how anyone could possibly believe that killing an innocent being would improve their relationship with God.

Running time: 0:48

From Allen Paul, Palatine, IL Did the Greek story of Pandora's Box precede the similar story of Adam and Eve with the forbidden Tree of Life? Listen:

Running time: 1:06

From Brynn Craffey, La Jolla, CA "Elohim" takes the Hebrew plural form. Is this an artifact of an earlier time, in which the precursors of the Israelites worshipped many gods? Listen:

Running time: 0:32

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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