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I am grateful for the time that esteemed epigrapher André Lemaire has taken the time to respond to the articles that are published as part of the SBL Forum. Within this letter, I should like to address some of his more substantive concerns.

1. Regarding Lemaire 's suggestion that Biblical Archaeology Review should have been included in the Forum.Rollston's Response: Certain "media outlets" have sensationalized epigraphic objects from the market and this has served to compound the problems associated with the antiquities market and modern epigraphic forgeries. A purpose of the March issue of the SBL Forum was to publish responses from the field that consisted of summaries of the problem, assessments of the factors that have precipitated and compounded the problem, and proposals of stringent methodological protocols. For this reason, all of those invited to author articles for the March Forum are academics, formally trained within the field of Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies. Because of the nature, intent, and focus of this issue of the SBL Forum, it did not seem appropriate to include an article from Biblical Archaeology Review, a semi-popular magazine.

2. Regarding the Ivory Pomegranate and the statements in the Forum (e.g., from Goren, Rollston, et al.) that classify it as a modern forgery. Rollston 's Response: This inscribed Ivory Pomegranate appeared on the antiquities market during the late 1970s, and was published by Lemaire (as noted in my article). For some time now, I have considered the inscription to be a probable forgery. The script of the pomegranate, though consisting of just a few letters, contains some palaeographic anomalies, especially the problematic mem. In addition, this inscription appeared on the market bearing an inscription reading "Holy (Object) of the Priests, Belonging to the T[emple of Yahwe]h, " words that caused this market piece to be viewed as a "precious object " (for more data, see my post on the University of Chicago 's Ancient Near Eastern List, December 8, 2003). More recently, lab analyses of the pomegranate have been conducted, and these also suggest that this inscription is a modern forgery. Of course, Lemaire correctly notes that the scholarly article detailing some of the problems with the pomegranate has not yet appeared in Israel Exploration Journal. This is correct, but I have read the article and consider it cogent. For this reason, I am now comfortable affirming that the Ivory Pomegrante can indeed be classified as a modern forgery (i.e., not just a "probable forgery," as I had previously argued).Lemaire suggests that I write a full treatment of the problems with the Pomegranate before stating that I consider it a forgery. I am not opposed to writing my own full length treatment of the Pomegranate, but because I have outlined my views in various places and because of the forthcoming IEJ article, I am not convinced that this is necessary. Moreover, even Lemaire has sometimes declared something to be a modern forgery without detailing his arguments, as is the case in his assessment of the Marzeah Papyrus (cf. BAR 23/3 [May/June 1997], page 39, footnote 4), so I feel that my decision reflects a certain precedent.Finally, I should note that I received a written statement from Frank Cross that he considered the Pomegranate a probable forgery; thus I am not citing an "oral opinion. "

3. Regarding the inclusion of Bruce Metzger 's "The Saga of the Yonan Codex. " Rollston 's Response: Lemaire suggests that this article, because it did not focus on forgeries, was "out of place." In contrast, I believe this was one of the most important articles, as it reveals that sensationalism has produced more smoke than light for the field, not only in the immediate present, but also in the past. That is, because sensationalism has served to compound the current crisis, Metzger 's contribution serves as an historical reflection, demonstrating that "sensationalists" and "sensationalism" rarely serve altruistic or salutary roles for the field.

4. Regarding the possibility of a "Round Table Discussion" with epigraphers and hard scientists. Rollston 's Response: I think that publications in scholarly journals often function this way (but not in an elegant fashion, to be sure); however, I certainly concur that "cross fertilization" and more dialogue are desiderata.


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