Nose rings: A Biblical Symbol of Modesty

Snippet from Bailey's book showing woman wearing shnaf nose ring. One of my favorite books I stumbled upon last year was Clinton Bailey's, Bedouin Culture in the Bible  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). Bailey is a world leading authority on the modern Bedouin living in biblical lands, and his book examines how its culture sheds light on things modern people are inclined to find strange in the Old Testament. As Bailey writes, "Bedouin culture goes back 4,500 years. Owing to the unchangeability of desert conditions, this culture remained largely unchanged and is recognizable in the Bible." The following is an interesting portion from his book: Women in the biblical world wore nose rings as a symbol of sexual modesty (pgs. 61-3): “Nose rings play a role in the modesty of women, about which the Bedouin are zealous. …[F]ar-reaching obligations to, and burdens upon, clansmen are weighty—too weighty to be borne for people not of their blood. Thus, the possibility of disagrees with me about Behemoth’s penis

Image has published this piece attempting to debunk my research on the biblical monster Behemoth. Those of you devastatingly attractive loose-cannon rock stars that have read my book on the Creation Museum (Why haven’t you? The reviews melt faces.) know that I argue Behemoth was not a real animal, but a west Semitic chaos deity. Along with many Semitists from backwards, rinky-dink institutions you’ve probably never heard of like the Hebrew University of Jerusalem or Oxford, I believe Behemoth was probably a mythological creature based around the attributes of a bull--a view going back to early Judaism.  Additionally, examining features of the Hebrew texts, I agree with many translators like Rob Alter at Berkley or Edward Greenstein at Bar-Ilan University that the infamous verse about Behemoth’s tail being “like a cedar” is likely a reference to the creature’s penis. That last sentence is what we call foreshadowing in the writing biz and is designed to hold everyone's int

Answers in Genesis Responds to my Critique of their Museum

(The following is an archived version of a post originally made in 2013 . I've since published a book critiquing the Creation Museum here .) Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom have posted responses here and here  to my blog post critiquing their museum . I encourage everyone to go read their short replies. Let me point out nothing in my original blog post was condemnatory of young earth creationism. In fact, you could still believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago contemporaneously with Larry King and adhere to all the points I outlined. I haven’t declared my side in the debate. (I prefer to be annoying like that.) Before we respond to this piece from them, let’s take a moment to recall all the things Ham and Purdom simply have not attempted to address that my blog brings up: 1)  Anachronistic Moses:  They were silent about their display with Moses holding the Ten Commandments in a script which wasn’t adopted by the Jews until the 5th century and dotted with v

Seminary Student Visits the Creation Museum: 27 Million Dollars of Bad Exegesis

The following is an archived version of a highly popular article I originally posted in 2013 . In December 2020, I published a full book critiquing the Creation Museum available here . Ken Ham  here  and Georgia Purdom  here  have made a response to this blog on the AiG website. I just recently got back from Ken Ham's Creation Museum with a couple of other seminary friends. In this post I won’t be clamoring about the “abuse of science” or thundering party lines for either an old or young earth position like other reviews online. I also won't be discussing the length of the days of Genesis. (If you're wondering, I largely side with  John Walton's discussion  of the seven days in the context of ancient Mesopotamian temple cosmology.) Here we will be doing something much more radical—looking at a couple of Answers in Genesis’ (AiG) claims and examining what sorts of interpretations the original language texts can and cannot sustain. There I go again insisting on all that b

Old Testament Cosmology

(The following is an updated repost from February 27, 2017 . The original post received 78 comments.) My newly published book critiquing Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum contains an illustration of ancient Israelite cosmology that has circulated quite widely on the web. Anyone is now free to use or republish this image however you wish provided you simply cite the book: Ben Stanhope, (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible (Scarab Press: Louisville Kentucky, 2018), 88. Amazon book purchase link. The geek stuff: This illustration draws on the attempts of previous scholars, including Nahum Sarna,  Understanding Genesis: the Heritage of Biblical Israel  (New York: Schocken Books, 1966), 5. Incorporating the iconography of Leviathan and the seraphim is an idea I owe to Othmar Keel’s illustration in  Altorientalische Miniaturkunst  (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1990), 15. Foremost of all, I have be

Why the Villain of Eden was a snake

The following as an archived version of a post originally made Jan 3, 2018 . The original post received 139 comments. This YouTube presentation argues ancient Judahite religion believed seraphim were serpentine divine beings and that the serpent in the Garden of Eden story was likely one of these creatures in the original context of the Hebrew Bible. Footnotes: [1] Michael S. Heiser,  The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible  (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2015), 87. See also, Michael S. Heiser, The Nachash (הנחש) and His Seed: Some Explanatory Notes on Why the “Serpent” in Genesis 3 Wasn’t a Serpent,” 1-7. Available at: [2] See T. N. D. Mettinger entry “Seraph” in  Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible  (DDD) ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 743. [3] Othmar Keel,  Jahwe-Visionen und Siegelkunst: Eine neue Deutung der Majestatsschi

The Solid Heavenly Dome of Israelite Cosmology: A Response to Younker and Davidson

The following is an archived version of an original post dated to June 19, 2018 . Most Semitists believe ancient Israelite religion believed the sky was a solid dome which retained a celestial ocean above it from flooding the earth--in parallel with the Mesopotamians and Egyptians. However, Younker and Davison's popular 2011 journal article, "The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome" challenges this consensus. In the following presentation, I present several disagreements I have with their work and lay out a brief case in favor of ancient belief in the solid heavenly dome. Errata: This video references the Tablet of Shamash and argues that it depicts the dome of heaven and upper waters. I've since encountered new data that convinces me this scene depicts the sun and stars ascending from the lower apsu with the sunrise at the level of the earth. Likewise, since taking a course in Old Babylonian, I now recognize several terms are mispronounced.  Footnotes: 1] This illustrat