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Episode 099 Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls with James Charlesworth

Dr. James Charlesworth joins David Capes on “The Stone Chapel Podcast” to talk about material culture, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls, and how it shines a light on our understanding of Jesus and the Gospels

What is material culture you ask? According to Briannica, it is the everyday material belongings used by a culture. So, things like clothing, tools, art, machines, utinsils and religious objects are material culture.

Recently Dr. Capes met Dr. Charlesworth at his home in Princeton, NJ, to see his extensive library and hundreds of antiquities he has collected since he first began his work as a scholar in 1963. 

And in this episode he discusses the parable of the senseless virgins (The book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 1-13 in the Christian Bible) who brought lamps but forgot to bring extra oil. They talk about how knowing the size, shape and function of the lamp and filler, helps us step into the story. We can understand much better the significance of the events. 

Now we understand the importance of knowing details about Herodian lamps and oil fillers. The oil lamps of the time period did not look like the “Aladdin and genie” lamps that we imagine from movies!

Here’s a photo of this style oil lamp and filler taken at his home. 

Dr. James Charlesworth is the retired George Collard Professor of Princeton Theological Seminary. Few scholars have had the kind of experiences Dr. Charlesworth has enjoyed

He has worked with some of the best scholars in the world and has authored, co-authored, or edited hundreds of books (most of which you can find at the Lanier Theological Library).

In his retirement he is working to complete the Dead Sea Scrolls project he started at Princeton Theological Seminary.

And, if you enjoy information on material culture, listen to these previous podcast.

Episode 092 Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts with Dan Wallace

Episode 093 The Lanier Center for Archaeology with Steve Ortiz

Episode 088 Joshua, Judges and Jesus Part 1 with Scott Stripping

Episode 089 Joshua, Judges and Jesus Part 2 with Scott Strippling

Next listen to Dr. Charlesworth’s lecture at The Lanier Theological Library here.

Subscribe to all of these short, succinct theological and biblical podcast episodes. They cover a wide range of disciplines with scholars and theologians across the globe in a friendly and informative Q and A.