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 John Hubbell, Greenville, IL Did the Israelites view the creation and flood stories literally or as allegory and metaphor? Can we know for sure? Listen:

Running time: 1:11

From Phil Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA In Genesis, Woman is blamed for our fall from Innocence because she gives in to the Serpent. God tells her that, because of her foolishness, she must obey her husband in all things. Are there any translations of Genesis in which Woman is not the "fall guy"? Listen:

Running time: 1:55

From Eli Reich, Indiana, PA Why do you use the term the "memories" of Exodus when you think that for most of the early Israelites this wasn't a memory but an adopted so-called memory. I have taught your book Exodus in college once and will use it again next term. I think it is absolutely the best kind of introduction to biblical studies—except for the concept "collective memory." Listen:

Running time: 0:44

From Joseph, Petaluma, CA May I ask if the scholars in the documentary are people who practice one of the biblically sourced religious traditions, or if they view the stories of the Bible as myths for study only? Also, if they practice a religious tradition, how do they reconcile what archeological and biblical studies conclude if/when their findings in some ways "deconstruct" the very sources of their faith? In other words, why do they not become agnostics/atheists? Thank you. Listen:

Running time: 1:54

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 Jack Dempsey, Boston, MA I learned a lot from your book Who Were The Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?, but I don't understand (or do I?) why you and most scholars keep looking in one Israelite direction as if everybody in Canaan/Palestine back then considered Israelites as "central" as this age does. When are you going to put the Sea Peoples and Philistines back on the cultural history map where they belong? They had clear links with Minoan Crete (the longest successful period in western history), and they were "advanced" in every way from building to gender and spiritual issues. Listen:

Running time: 1:13

From Chuck G., Toms River, NJ I read and enjoyed Israel Finkelstein's book The Bible Unearthed and really was intrigued by the hypotheses he advanced. But his arguments are partially contingent on their being no "United Kingdom" and little monumental architecture in Judah until later in the 1st millenium B.C.E. Is there a consensus on the size and complexity of building and society in late Bronze/early Iron Age Judah that supports or refutes Finkelstein's theories? Listen:

Running time: 1:00

From Anonymous Is it possible to visit the archeological sites shown in the film? Listen:

Running time: 1:14

From Gary Hall, Morgantown, PA If a collective experience brought about the concept of monotheism by the Jewish people, then who introduced the concept of God, singular or plural, period? Listen:

Running time: 0:49

From Rajeev Daniel, United Kingdom Has your expertise affected your religious beliefs if you have such? Listen:

Running time: 1:16

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 Jim Cassidy, Broomfield, CO First off, I would like to say how much I enjoyed and learned from the program. My question: Can you tell me if there is some indication of how long a generation would be in the Torah or the 39 books in the Old Testament? Listen:

Running time: 0:25

From Joseph Luzzi, Whittier, CA Why do some Bibles have books or chapters that others don't? For example, the Catholic Bible has many more books than my New King James version. Why? Listen:

Running time: 1:42

From Donald Markos, Castro Valley, CA Michael, my questions are especially for you and Writers of the Bible. When you say, "The earliest texts in the Bible date to before 1000 B.C. ...," what exactly is a "text"? Since there are no manuscripts dating back that far, how do we know that a "text" refers to events around 1000 B.C.? Or does it mean that the "text" itself, written or oral, was created at about that time? And are there any existing manuscripts of the Old Testament prior to the 39 Dead Sea Scrolls, which presumably were copies of manuscripts that no longer exist? Listen:

Running time: 0:57

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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