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Office of News & Public Affairs

BC Biblical Scholar David Vanderhooft Honored
By American Schools of Oriental Research


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (12-12-12) Boston College Associate Professor of Theology David Vanderhooft has been presented with the 2012 G. Ernest Wright Award by American Schools of Oriental Research for his co-authored book, The Yehud Stamp Impressions: A Corpus of Inscribed Impressions from the Persian and Hellenistic Periods in Judah (Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns).

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David Vanderhooft

The G. Ernest Wright Award is given to the editor/author of the most substantial volume(s) dealing with archaeological material, excavation reports and material culture from the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean. Vanderhooft and co-author Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University were presented with the award last month at the ASOR annual meeting in Chicago. The late G. Ernest Wright was an influential scholar of the Old Testament and of ancient Near Eastern archaeology who served as the Parkman Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School and curator of Harvard’s Semitic Museum.

“To receive the G. Ernest Wright award from ASOR was a great surprise and honor, and we are both delighted,” said Vanderhooft. “The book contains the kind of detailed scholarship on the ancient world that ASOR has done so much to promote, so for peers in our field to acknowledge the book is incredibly important to us.”

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The Yehud Stamp Impressions is the product of years of research and analysis and displays the first comprehensive examination of these important artifacts from ancient Israel in about 40 years.  The systematic study by Lipschits and Vanderhooft presents a comprehensive catalogue, classification, and analysis of all published and unpublished Yehud stamp impressions, with digital photographs and complete archaeological and publication data for each impression.

According to the ASOR: “This invaluable, insightful, and exhaustive resource provides a new historical typology for the development of the impressions and casts new light on the related fields of stratigraphy, paleography, administration, historical geography, and the Persian-period economy. The meticulous investigation includes distribution, petrographic analysis (of the clay), new readings of the seal legends, use of the toponym Yehud, and significance of the title pahwa’, ‘governor.’ The quality of the volume is such that all future studies of these invaluable artifacts will employ this work both as a resource and as a basis for comparison. The authors have produced a very substantial volume, dealing with both archaeological material and material culture from the ancient Near Eastern and eastern Mediterranean world.”

“It was a tremendous pleasure to work with my colleague, Oded Lipschits, on this book, and to offer a framework for understanding the society and economy of ancient Judah in the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Those are the periods when scholars agree that the books of the Hebrew Bible largely assumed the shape in which we know them. Yet answers to fundamental questions about the society in which the texts were collated, copied, and in some cases composed, remain elusive,” said Vanderhooft. “What was the extent of the province? How was it governed? How big was Jerusalem? What was the role of the Temple in the society and the economy?

"I wouldn’t say we’ve solved these questions, but through careful study of the jar stamp impressions, we’ve clarified the parameters of discourse. We’ve shown when and why Aramaic became the language of administration, how commodities stored in the jars circulated in the province, and how the governing and tax structures changed over time. We hope our study of the dating of Aramaic inscriptions and the stratigraphy of sites that yielded the stamped jars will be of help to other scholars.”

Vanderhooft joined Boston College in 1996 after earning his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. His research focuses on the Hebrew Scriptures, ancient Israel's literature and the relationship between Israel and the ancient empires of Assyria and Babylonia. He teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible.

American Schools of Oriental Research
Founded in 1900, ASOR is a non-profit organization that supports and encourages the study of the peoples and cultures of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. ASOR has more than 90 consortium institutions, including universities, seminaries, museums, foundations, and libraries, as well as more than 1,500 individual members. It fosters original research, archaeological excavations and explorations; encourages scholarship in the Near East’s basic languages, cultural histories and traditions; builds support for Near Eastern studies, and advocates high academic standards.

--Kathleen Sullivan, Office of News & Public Affairs, kathleen.sullivan@bc.edu