Why I Wrote ‘The Cities that Built the Bible’

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

On March 15, 2016, HarperCollins will be releasing my latest book, The Cities that Built the Bible. You can read more about the book and preorder your copy today at http://citiesthatbuiltthebible.com.

In a nutshell, I wrote the book because Nicole Kidman once asked me where the Bible came from, and I didn’t have a ready answer. So I spent the next decade researching the question. But instead of asking who wrote it, or how it became the holy word of God to believers, I wanted to demonstrate how various ancient political entities and international events–each represented by a particular city–contributed to the composition of the Bible.

I also wanted to look at the Israelite, Judahite, Jewish, and Christian responses to these events, as these reflections upon the successes and tragedies experienced by those who believed in the Hebrew God became some of the very texts preserved in the Bible.

Cover of The Cities that Built the Bible by Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.So join me as we travel through these ancient cities and we’ll explore their history, their archaeology, and how each of them drove the building of the Bible.

For both the religious and the non-religious, understanding the forces that shaped this most influential of books is possible on a guided tour through The Cities that Built the Bible.

Preorder today at http://citiesthatbuiltthebible.com.



shakira used a disguise and a middle name to attend ucla class

UCLA student Shakira

UCLA student Shakira

as many of you know, los angeles is a truly international city. and specifically, west los angeles is one of the coolest places on earth. so it should come as no surprise that international pop singing sensation shakira would choose to attend ucla for her educational needs in between making millions from recording songs and touring. the surprising part of the story is that she attended classes unnoticed.

and how did she do it? how did a star go unnoticed at ucla?

“I used to wear a cap and a big backpack,” Shakira explained. “I looked like a boy. I didn’t get recognized… She told them that her name was Isabel, which is actually one of her middle names.”

now of course, students at ucla are so attractive as well as smart, that it is not inconceivable that internationally recognized superstars can mingle around ucla’s country club-like campus without being bothered by the students, who are quite accustomed to bumping to the world’s biggest stars on campus, in westwood, santa monica, beverly hills, west hollywood, and the other neighborhoods surrounding ucla. but unlike some professors, who recognize and appreciate their celebrity students while maintaining strict confidentiality and treating them as all other students, ucla professor robert cleve didn’t even know who shakira was. according to professor cleve, whose ‘introduction to western civilization: ancient civilizations from prehistory to circa ad 843’ class shakira took, cleve ‘had no idea “isabel” was actually a pop star.’

“She told me she was visiting from Colombia and that she was just doing this for her own enlightenment and enjoyment,” Cleve told the Associated Press in 2007. “She looked like just an ordinary student. She wasn’t flamboyant…she didn’t act like a big celebrity or anything.”

and that’s the way it goes here at ucla. celebrities and the world’s best and brightest students sit side by side, taking courses in the warm sun, enjoying the ocean breeze, and learning history the way god intended.

(that is, when we’re not stuck on the 405 because there is no viable public transportation, paying outrageous prices to park and live, working for 8% less then we were last year, and getting stabbed in lab classrooms. other than those things, it is perfect. ;-)

brad lidge studying biblical archaeology

Brad Lidge celebrates a World Series victory with the Phillies

Brad Lidge celebrates a World Series victory with the Phillies

reports are that philadelphia phillies’ closer brad lidge is studying for a degree in biblical archaeology.

Lidge is studying online for a degree in it from Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver, Colo.

i like brad lidge. he seems like a nice enough guy. as a former baseball player, i can appreciate a man that wants to prepare for life after baseball. and as one who travels to a new town every night, i can’t begrudge someone who is taking online courses from regis university. those of us with advanced degrees from major universities may me tempted to look down on him, but i applaud him for being interested in education and trying to better himself while he makes a living as a professional athlete. it is certainly better than dog fighting, drunk driving, or shooting yourself in the leg.

now because he is a pitcher, i’m guessing they started him in the introductory courses (which are probably taught by catchers ;- ). and as a former catcher, who has successfully transitioned into life as an archaeologist, i’d like to offer mr. lidge some advice about the differences between baseball and archaeology:

  • you no longer have to dig the dirt out with your cleats. you may now use a trowel.
  • ‘dig dig dig’ no longer means ‘run quickly.’ dig means dig. when doing archaeology in israel, the proper way to say ‘run quickly’ is, ‘holy sh!t! hezbullah is bombing us again. yallah! yallah! yallah!’
  • a balk is no longer a bad thing, in fact, a well-trimmed balk is a great source of much pride.
  • sledge handles are just like baseball bats: if you jam yourself when you swing, they will break.
  • the flight from los angeles to new york is exactly the same as the flight from los angeles to tel aviv: kosher food, heavy security, and few people speak english on arrival. no difference.
  • dugout humor is just as raunchy as square humor, except girls are telling the dirty jokes.
  • unlike baseball, where the radar measures the speed of a pitch, radar in archaeology measures what’s under the ground.
  • a pick off is no longer an attempt to get the runner at first base out. it means the head of your pick has fallen off, probably because the four nails you drove into the handle with a piece of basalt are bent and rusted out.
  • baseball is a game of inches; archaeology is a game of centimeters.
  • like baseball, you must always wear your hat and gloves.
  • like baseball, if you don’t get dirty, you didn’t put in a full day’s work.

so kudos to brad lidge for beginning his biblical archaeology degree while he is still making millions as a ball player. maybe next year, the jaffa cultural heritage project will get a baseball-related sponsor: the red man tobacco excavations at jaffa.

and if you need a tutor in your studies, i’m here to help. if i can help internationally acclaimed movie star and devout catholic nicole kidman with her biblical studies, then i can help you, mr. lidge, transition from baseball to archaeology.

(here’s some extra credit: can anyone come up with more similarities between baseball and archaeology? if so, put them in the comments box below.)

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