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The Christadelphian | April 2011

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial The Book and its message
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning “Take no thought for the morrow” | Jonathan Cope
  • Money-changers | John V. Collyer
  • The story of the Image Library | Leen Ritmeyer
  • “Lead me in the way everlasting” | D. C.
  • The Messiah in Zechariah Part 5 | Stephen Whitehouse
  • Ezekiel — prophet to the exiles 16 — Ezekiel’s last words | Andrew E. Walker
  • Between the Testaments 4 — The influence of Jewish thought | Peter Caudery
  • Salome | Rachel Madden
  • Signs of the times Turmoil in Libya
  • Israel and their land “An axis of terror”
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

The story of the Image Library

THE Image Library of Ritmeyer Archaeological Design is a new online resource available to the brotherhood. As its creation was a process that took many years, you may be interested to read its story. We were privileged to find the Truth and live in Israel for a long time, so most of the images come from the Land. However, in recent years, we have managed somewhat to break the hold that Israel has on us and branch out into the surrounding Bible Lands.

Reconstruction drawings

What is unique about these images is the fact that most of them are reconstruction drawings. Most picture libraries are just that — pictures of sites. But when you are faced with the challenge of giving a talk on a Bible subject, you don’t just want to show a picture of ruins. You want to give your listeners an insight into the past by building up the stones into a structure where you can imagine Biblical events taking place.

We may take the idea of reconstruction drawings for granted today, but going back to the heady days after the Six-Day War, when there was an explosion of archaeological excavations, particularly in Jerusalem, there were very few around. Many archaeologists adopted a cautious, purist approach and found it a bit “risky” to take decisions as to a building’s original appearance. My foray into making reconstruction drawings stemmed from the experience of giving tours on the Temple Mount dig, whilst working on the site as surveyor. I used to try explaining features like Robinson’s Arch, the arched staircase that led up to the Temple Mount from the Western Wall street in the time of Christ, with my hands and feet. From questions I got asked afterwards, I realised that not everybody had understood. Thus, my first reconstruction drawing of Robinson’s Arch and a career as an archaeological architect was born. It was all based on study drawings of the known elements, comparative architecture and research into the historical sources. Seeing people’s faces change from incomprehension to clear understanding sold me on the vital need for such drawings. I was blessed that the late Professor Benjamin Mazar, who directed the dig, agreed and could not have been more encouraging.

Invaluable insights

As there were few others at the time making reconstructions (now it is a recognised field), I was asked to visit many sites to help visualise the original structures. Talk about “going over the cities of Israel”! These digs ranged from Ai, Beersheba and Dan to Shechem, Shiloh and Timnath of the Philistines. Although I did not need archaeology to make me believe the Bible, the experiences I had provided me with invaluable insights into its original context and confirmed my faith in the God of Israel. Sadly, when travelling with teams of archaeologists, I was often the only member who believed that the Hebrew Bible was the word of God. I remember one discussion in a jeep while travelling near the Valley of the Going Down of the Sun, through which the Israelites passed on their way up to Shechem, after conquering Jericho and Ai. My companions were three well known Israeli professors of archaeology and all were in agreement that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses).

I did, however, learn much from the older school of archaeologists, such as the aforementioned Professor Mazar, who kept a copy of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible on his desk, consulting it daily and calling it “our history book!” And Mendel Nun, a resident of Kibbutz Ein Gev on the Sea of Galilee (who died this year at the age of 92) did so much research into methods of fishing on the lake in ancient times, that I was able to make a drawing of the harbour of Capernaum in the time of Christ.

The Middle Gate

However, it was Jerusalem that was always the centre of my endeavours and I was also involved in the other two major digs that took place in the city, namely the Jewish Quarter Excavations and the Excavations in the City of David. Included in the Image Library is a picture from the former dig, directed by Professor Nachman Avigad, of a building originally identified as part of an Israelite tower. However, as the dig expanded, it became clear that it could not have been a tower as one side was missing! One day, after returning from working for the summer season at the site of Timnath of the Philistines, I realised, from my experience of digging a gate of this period in Timnath, that we were looking at a similar structure here in the Jewish Quarter. From its location in the upper city, it became clear that it should, in fact, be identified as the Middle Gate of Jeremiah 39:3. Arrowheads found close to the site revealed the destruction of the city in the time of Zedekiah. Our hands got black with soot — tragic evidence of the disobedience of God’s people.

Models and maps

We left Israel during the First Intifada, as heightened security made it virtually impossible to work on many of the sites I was involved with in the West Bank. Having moved to the UK to do a course in Conservation Studies in another walled city — York — one of the projects I was asked to do was to design models of the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple and Temple Mount for a Jewish philanthropist in Washington D.C. Photographs of these models, beautifully crafted by York Model Making, are included in the Image Library. And subsequently, during the years we lived in Australia, whilst teaching Hebrew and History at Heritage College, Adelaide, I made models of Jerusalem in the different periods with my Year 10 form group. The process developed the students’ understanding of the city’s history immeasurably and resulted in models, some of which were unique in the history of model making, especially of the periods of Melchizedek and Nehemiah.

And part of the project I did for the GLO Immersion Digital Bible involved making maps of all of Christ’s journeys. I have included in the Image Library this map of his last journey in Jerusalem. The traditional Via Dolorosa or Path of Sorrows was fixed by monks in Western Europe in the eighteenth century and a devotional procession along this route is still led by Franciscans every Friday. In fact, the streets upon which Jesus walked lie about ten feet below the level of these thoroughfares. By contrast, this drawing, called “The Way to Golgotha”, is firmly based on scriptural and archaeological evidence. Some of the most useful images are available as Bible Charts from our website.

How to use the Image Library

The Image Library is arranged according to categories and is fully searchable. This arrangement into different categories: Illustrating the Bible; the Temple Mount; Jerusalem; Biblical Sites; Buildings and Ritual of the Bible, is designed to help you find the picture you are looking for easily. Each image comes with a descriptive note and, where applicable, full scripture references.

Now, how to use the Image Library? Let’s give an example of a brother preparing a talk on Melchizedek. He would simply go to “Jerusalem” on the front page, click on “Melchizedek” and effortlessly find four pictures, without spending hours scouring the internet for images that are, in any case, unavailable at other sites. The first picture is a drawing of Abraham’s view of Mount Moriah. The second shows a drawing of houses found in Salem from the time of Melchizedek and there are two views of the meeting of Melchizedek, Abraham and Lot portrayed on a model of Jerusalem in that period. He would find the same four pictures if he went to the category “Illustrating the Bible” and clicked on “Books of Moses”. He could supplement these with a choice of topographical maps that he would also find under “Jerusalem”. Sunday School teachers would find help to illustrate their lessons by searching in the book on which their lesson is based, under “Illustrating the Bible”, which ranges from the Books of Moses through to Revelation. One user of the Image Library said: “Now there is no excuse to give a dull, image-deprived talk.” A picture can enliven a thousand words!

A blog on the latest in Biblical Archaeology, especially concerning Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, can be found on our website, from where you can also access the ever-expanding Image Library.

Leen Ritmeyer

 

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