Last night I attended what was termed a "Workshop" of Ziony Zevit, Seymour Gitin Distinguished Professor, AIAR, who lectured on:
It was held at the Albright Institute which is located at 26 Salah A-Din Street which allowed me to cross into "Solidarity with Palestine Land". I walked down past Notre Dame, across the Damascus Gate light railway stop, past the Garden Tombs, past the old US Consulate Building (still in use, I presume, but for other purposes than consular affairs) and finally, to the "Broadway" of Arab-populated Jerusalem.
I walked up to the front door and pressed the buzzer. Twice. This being my first time there (well, that I recall), I was non-plussed. It was 3:58 and no answer. Being adventurous, I looked left but decided to circle to right.
All the way around I found some cars parked and a light on off to the right and up the back porch. Sure enough, there some 50 people sitting and listening:
There were professors present and archaeologists and foreign academics and, well, people like me, I guess.
The talk, an hour, was interesting and almost stimulating. I thought that the point he made could have been done in much less time, but that would have caused the program to read "Seminar". He told two good jokes (one was about the man who saw devils under his bed and rejected the expensive psychologist's treatment for the advice of the Rabbi which was: cut off the bed legs).
If I heard him correctly, I was in the last row (you could tell that the crowd was less-than-Israeli as it started on time), in quoting from Tomer of Devorah, he said it was part of a 26-volume commentary by the RaMaK on the Zohar now being translated which is wrong. His commentary is Ohr Yakar. The book, Tomar Devorah, is something else although Rav Moshe Cordovero was also its author.
And again, if I heard him correctly, in quoting the Ishmael ben Elisha event*, Zevit asserted that it could not have happened in that Ishmael being a Tanna of the first century, he couldn't have entered the presumably destroyed Temple. Of course, the text itself might have been parable and so it wasn't understood literally.
A small point: the full name of God in the sources was spelled out. A little bit of curtesy could have been expected.
Asked about figurines found in/near temple sites, he did say that we do not know if those represented a god or the person coming to make a request of the god.
Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, a High Priest, told that once on Yom Kippur he entered the Holy of Holies to burn incense and saw Achteriel God of Legions sitting on His throne, and God told him, “Ishmael, My son, bless Me.” He blessed God with “May it be Your will that Your mercy will conquer Your anger...” and saw God nod, demonstrating His approval.