Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1595 Clyde Billington-Museum of the Bible

Museum of the BibleA new museum of biblical archaeology is opening in Washington DC this month, the Museum of the Bible. In this conversation we review some of the controversy surrounding this new museum in Washington DC, and some of the news reports about the museum in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine.


1594 Hershel Shanks – Kathisma Church

shanks-headshotBiblical Archaeology Review reports that founder and long-time editor Hershel Shanks is stepping down. BAR, as it’s called, has been a key resource over the 35 years of our program, and we’ve interviewed Hershel several times. One of the most recent interviews concerned the Kathisma Church excavation, a site between Jerusalem and Bethlehem dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

1592-1593 Keith Schoville – Remembering Menahem Mansoor

Professor Menahem Mansoor and Professor Keith Schoville

Professor Menahem Mansoor and Professor Keith Schoville

Due to the celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the Madison Biblical Archaeology Society this week, we are remembering the formative role of the scholar who not only began the society, but also founded the University of Wisconsin Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies, and indirectly helped start The Book & The Spade radio program. Professor Menahem Mansoor was the mentor to my longtime co-host, professor Keith Schoville and a distinguished scholar with many important publications. May his memory be a blessing.

In the second program, also from our archives, professor Mansoor offered some of his thoughts about the significance of biblical archaeology.

1590-1591 Ben Witherington – A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem

Francesco Hayez painting of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

Francesco Hayez painting of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

This is the third in a series of “In the Week of…” books about first century Christianity and the world in which it existed, informed by Biblical Archaeology and related research. Ben Witherington, a professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary, has written two of these books.

Professor Witherington uses his knowledge of the biblical world to paint the most accurate picture possible of this major event that overshadows the New Testament and introduces us to several biblical characters, a few decades after the time of the gospels.

My biggest complaint is that the book is too short. We become interested in these characters but the book ends before we can really get to know them. And, sadly, it appears as though this may be the last book of this series.

Each of these books in this series we have offered to our listeners as a thank you for listening. So if you would like to get your name in the drawing for this book, send an email telling how you found out about this program, how long you’ve been listening, what you like about it, etc. And send the email before November 1st. The address for this contest is radioscribe<at>gmail<dot>com.

1589 Clyde Billington – Caesarea & the Tsunami

Aqueduct at Caesarea

Aqueduct at Caesarea

More on the latest in biblical archaeology from the news digests of the autumn issue of ARTIFAX magazine: The IAA is going to investing more money to excavate and reconstruct the city of Caesarea Maritima, the seaport that Herod built on the Mediterranean shore, where visitors can already see impressive remains, including a Roman aquedect, a Roman theater, the remains of Herod’s palace, Crusader walls, etc.

We also discuss an archaeologists theories about an ancient tsunami that may have struck the Levantine coast, with ties to a biblically recorded earthquake, plus an explanation of why the story of the biblical judge Othniel contains evidence that supports the early date of the Exodus.

All of this discussed with professor Clyde Billington, my co-editor at ARTIFAX magazine.

1588 Clyde Billington – Redating the Gihon Tower/Destruction of the Temple

Francesco Hayez painting of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

Francesco Hayez painting of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

The construction of a tower guarding the Gihon spring in Jerusalem has been redated by about 1,000 years. The significance of this redating is discussed, along with archaeological remnants of the destruction of the Jewish Temple, first by the Babylonians and then by the Romans, both on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, 650 years apart.

These are items from the Israel archaeology news digest from the  latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine.

1587 Clyde Billington – Bethsaida, Huqoq, & Rosh Ha’ayin

A detail of the zodiac mosaic uncovered this summer at the Huqoq excavation

Capricorn – A detail of the zodiac mosaic uncovered this summer at the Huqoq excavation overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

Catching up on the latest discoveries in biblical archaeology, professor Clyde Billington joins me to discuss some of the news digest items in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine.

But first, a quick look at one of the top biblical archaeology stories of the summer that will be reported in the next issue of ARTIFAX, and that is the dispute of the true location of the New Testament city of Bethsaida. Excavations at el-Araj, on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee this past summer uncovered some first century remains which has renewed the debate.

For most of the past three decades, archaeologist Rami Arav has been excavating at a site about a mile from the shore called et-Tell, which he says is Bethsaida.

We also discuss the latest mosaic discoveries from the ongoing excavations at Huqoq, near the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a giant Assyrian period cistern discovered at Rosh Ha-Ayin, near Tel Aphek and the headwaters of the Yarkon River.