This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting the anonymous owner of the Boston collection of LMLK handles. I wanted to share some of the things related to my research & hobby, so along with samples of my antiquities & postage stamps, I brought a handful of autographs by famous LMLK scholars. This included these 6 books formerly in the personal library of paleography/epigraphy scholar extraordinaire, & Harvard Divinity School professor emeritus, Frank Moore Cross, Jr.:
“Von der Steinzeit zum Christentum” (1949 German edition of “From the Stone Age to Christianity“) by William Foxwell Albright, signed simply “W.F Albright” on the title page, but the front endpaper reveals a presentation inscription: “Frank M. Cross in aufrichtiper freundschaft von Frank J. Neuberg” (Note that Dr. Neuberg earned his PhD. under Albright at Johns Hopkins University, & served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society in 1953. Also note that Prof. Cross penciled in some additions to the bibliography section.)
“5 Essays on the Bible” (papers read at the 1960 Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies) by Erwin R. Goodenough, Roland H. Bainton, Morton S. Enslin, Howard Mumford Jones, & Nelson Glueck; signed on the front endpaper: “to Frank M. Cross, Jr. from Nelson Glueck” (Note that Rabbi Glueck’s paper was titled “The Bible & Archaeology”.)
“The Ben Sira Scroll from Masada“ by Yigael Yadin, 1965, Hebrew & English; signed on the inside coverboard of the English section: “Frank M. Cross Jr., Harvard University.”, & on the front endpaper opposite: “To Frank with best wishes, Yigael, 20-9-65” (Note that the Shrine of the Book, which houses many of the Dead Sea Scrolls, opened on April 20, 1965. Also note that Prof. Cross made several margin notes & corrections to Yadin’s translations in the English half of the book using red ink.)
“Isaiah & the Assyrian Crisis“ by Brevard S. Childs, 1967, signed on the title page: “to Frank with kind regards, Bard”
“Canaan & Israel: Historical Essays” by Benjamin Mazar, 1974; Hebrew book, but signed on the English title page: “To a dear friend–Frank M. Cross with appreciation, Benjamin”
“Arad Inscriptions” by Yohanan Aharoni, original 1975 Hebrew edition (which doesn’t include the LMLK chapter by Miriam Aharoni & Anson Rainey later published in the 1981 English edition), signed on the front endpaper: “Dear Frank, It took some time but here it is, Yours, Yohanan”
As of today, 2 other books from this library were still available from Windows Booksellers (no affiliation, thank God, with Microsoft):
“Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible” by Roland E. Murphy for $6.
“The Rule Scroll: A Scroll from the Wilderness of Judaea IQS, IQSa, IQSb. Text, Introduction, & Commentary” by Jacob Licht for $16.
Neither has any strong connection to the LMLK phenomenon, which is why I did not acquire them. The reason I decided to document this list today was in honor of the passing last week of Prof. Childs. I’ve not yet read his book in its entirety because a cursory preview revealed no LMLK content, but I hope to some day digest it carefully. It’s hard to top the compliment by Christopher Seitz that Childs was “an Isaiah figure”. For today, the best tribute I can offer is to quote some intriguing remarks from his Preface, dated February 24, 1967:
“This monograph grew out of a seminar on the message of Isaiah. It soon became evident to me that the events which climaxed in the Assyrian invasion of 701 were of decisive importance, & that one’s whole image of the prophet depended on how one judged his relation to this crisis. Yet the historical problems connected with Sennacherib’s attack seemed hopelessly locked in a scholarly impasse. As a result, various sets of categories have been employed–historical, literary, theological, & psychological–by which to organize the material & explain the prophet’s message. Often these lacked exegetical control & were rooted more in the interpreter than in the texts being interpreted.This study approaches the problem from a different vantage point. An attempt is made, first of all, to trace the various levels within the history of the Isaianic tradition before attacking the historical problems as such. By analysing the various ways in which Israel reacted to her traditions a new perspective is opened into the historical & theological message of the prophet which is sensitive to the tension, interaction, & resolution of elements which together constitute the full biblical witness.”
Chapter 1, The Nature of the Problem, begins thus:
“Few problems within the Old Testament have evoked such a steady stream of monographs & articles as has the account of the Assyrian invasion of Palestine in 701 BC. It has become a classic issue on which each new generation of biblical scholars seems constrained to test its mettle. The reasons why this problem has not been allowed to rest, but continues to offer its challenge are not difficult to discover. … The perennial problem lies in establishing the relation between the Assyrian sources & the various biblical accounts. The question is particularly intriguing to the historian because seldom is a biblical story augmented by such a detailed source which is not only contemporary to the event, but which also reflects a point of view outside of the Hebrew community. … In spite of this concentrated scholarly activity, a definite impasse appears to have been reached. No consensus has developed regarding the historical problems of the invasion; in fact, opinion continues to diverge as much as ever. The historical evidence which is needed to understand the actual historical sequence of events appears to be unavailable. As a result, every hypothetical reconstruction rests upon enough unproven assumptions to prevent the degree of historical probability needed to form a consensus.”
And that was nearly a decade before the majority of scholars began confining all LMLK seals to the reign of Hezekiah, & nearly 4 decades before someone suggested a direct relationship between Isaiah & the LMLK seals.
Song of the week: “Crossing the Celestial River” by Phil Thornton (click here for a 27-second sample; 360kb).