Sunday 13 July 2014

From Baghdad to Bethel - How?

"The Torah will be used in Bethel Seminary as a tool
for teaching about the Old Testament and how the word of
God has been preserved over time. According to the Clarks,
this biblical manuscript will be able to describe the way
that the scribes and rabbis copied the Bible".

The whole justification for the US seizing the so-called Iraqi Jewish Archive is allegedly the Jews leaving Iraq for new homes were not allowed to take their possessions with them (thus anything left behind is labelled "stolen" by the Americans wanting to get their hands on this stuff). Now some more Americans who also want to get their hands on some "cool" Iraqi Jewish stuff are proposing the exact opposite scenario. Here's a text about the so-called " the Larson- Bethel Baghdad Torah" at Bethel Seminary, St Paul, Minnesota (a stone's throw from the lootier state Wisconsin) "gifted" by Ken and Barbara Larson and their family:
According to [Scott] Carroll [the mummy mask dissolver - remember him?], this Torah dates predominantly to the early 17th century with replacement panels dating from the mid-17th century to the 18th century, and a single column dating to the early 19th century. This Torah is from Baghdad, where, according to [Seminary Vice President David Clark], immigrants most likely brought it to Jerusalem when they moved to start a new life [like the Aleppo Codex then]. The Larson family then worked with a broker, who helped them buy the Torah from the dealer who owned it in Jerusalem. [...]  As an evangelical university, Bethel views the word of God as the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice.
Source: Sarah Boadwine, 'Baghdad to Bethel: A 400-year journey', April 10, 2014.

No, Mr Clark, "most likely" is not what Jesus would have said.  "Probably not smuggled, but I do not know how it got there really" is not what Jesus would have said. Jesus would have said "no". So why are you saying "yes" to this without the proper documentation? So, let's get this straight, they were fleeing for their lives, and chose to take this 'non-Kosher' Torah with them? Pull the other one. Any cultural property on the market after the 2003 invasion of your country should be extra-specially scrutinised. it seems to me that neither you (nor from what you say, the Larson family) have done that due diligence. Unless you can provide better documentation - can you?

What actually are you going to do with this sacred document? How can you "teach" with it what you cannot teach without it? Be honest, is this not just a trophy piece for your seminary, something "cool" to show off and brag about? How many other items of dubious origin have you accepted into your collections? Some looted "widow's mites" maybe? Some lamps taken from robbed graves to illustrate the tale of the foolish virgins? Some really really big nails some jerk palmed off as "crucifixion nails"? Maybe some looted papyrus fragments too?

Oh, and early 17th century is not "ancient" where I come from.

Hat tip to Roberta Mazza for the links

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