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I agree with Bill that there is a certain benefit in viewing an object
between ones own fingers; but I wonder at the practicality of the
suggestion. Is it possible for us all to jump a jet to Jerusalem; get
permission from the Antiquities Authority; handle the ostracon in question;
take our own infrared photos; and then, and only then, be competent to
discuss the issue?
In fact, if we were to adopt such a method (which would clearly and
certainly be the best method), then conversation would be limited to a very
small minority of competent scholars. In other words, we would return to
the pre-enlightenment days of scroll control by a small minority.
Further I would suggest that photos can be and are generally very useful
when the genuine article cannot be at hand. Of course everyone would like
to have the object itself- but in furtherance of the discipline photos will do.
Jim West, ThD
Adjunct Professor of Bible, Quartz Hill School of Theology