Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1527 Clyde Billington – Magdala, Bethlehem, and Elephants



The cover story on the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine is about the latest discoveries at the first century city of Magdala, along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The work there is ongoing. The latest discoveries may be relatively minor, they include an incense shovel. But incense shovels are not ordinary items in Israeli archaeology. And Magdala is no ordinary archaeological site, the connections to the ministry of Jesus are very strong so this site is worth keeping an eye on.

We also discuss the recent discovery of ancient burials near Bethlehem, and what they tell us about this city, whose biblical history stretches from the time of Jacob and Rachel to the birth of Jesus.

And finally, elephants in the Bible. What is their significance? They’re there if you know how to look for them.

1526 Clyde Billington – Ordinary People Discoveries


Roman gold coin

A farmer, a school boy, a school girl, two scuba divers…these are ordinary people who have made major discoveries in biblical archaeology in the last week, or the last few months. A lady walking with some friends from a kibbutz discovered a gold Roman coin (see photo); only two such coins are known to exist and the other one is in the British Museum.

On this program we discuss some of the stories in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine that where people who were out for a walk or involved in other simple activities came upon something old and important. It’s not all that unusual, and in fact it’s kind of important.

We frequently encourage our listeners to volunteer to work on archaeological excavations. It’s an opportunity for ordinary people to not only contribute to the collection of important knowledge, but also to possibly make a discovery like this.


1524-1525 Charles Aling – Exodus and the Priests of Amon

Professor Charles Aling

Professor Charles Aling

Egyptologist Charles Aling returns to TB&TS with a discussion of his article in the Winter issue of ARTIFAX magazine, looking at role-changing clues to the impact of the Exodus. Professor Aling examines three important positions that were often all three held by the high priest of Amon.

But after the reign of Amenhotep II — who may be the pharaoh of the Exodus, going by the Bible’s internal chronology — these positions changed significantly, as if the reigning pharaohs no longer trusted the high priests of Amon. An intriguing suggestion that the Exodus changed the Egyptian ruling class, right up to the reign of Akhenaten.


1522-1523 Minna Silver – Haran of Abraham in Turkey

s200_minna-l_nnqvistArchaeologist Minna Silver recently visited excavations in Turkey at the site of Haran, visited by the Patriarch Abraham on his journey to Canaan. Minna is studying the ancient Amorites. And although the Bible refers to Abraham as a wandering Aramean, there’s also an Amorite connection.

#1521 Walter Kaiser Jr. – Arad Ostraca & Biblical Literacy

DSCN4034aThis week’s big news in Biblical Archaeology was a new analysis of pottery shards found at the desert fortress of Arad a half century ago, and what they might have to say about literacy and when the Bible was written. Mainline liberal scholars say the evidence shows the Bible could have been written before the Babylonian Exile, not after, as they have believed in recent years.

However, evangelicals continue to maintain a much earlier date for the development of widespread literacy and when the Bible was written, in large part based on internal evidence from the Bible itself. That’s the topic of this week’s discussion with Walter Kaiser Jr., President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

A visit to Tel Arad.


1519-1520 Clyde Billington – What’s Up With the Hittites?


Hittite/Egyptian treaty: Hattusili III & Ramses II

The Hittites are mentioned in a number of verses in the Old Testament, from the time of Abraham to the time of David and Solomon. But just who were the Hittites?

In these two programs we fill in some of the blanks, including some information left out of the latest article on the Hittites in Biblical Archaeology Review. There are actually three different groups of Hittites in the biblical period.

The treaty between the Hittite King Hattusili III and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II is the oldest treaty known. A copy of this treaty is on display at the United Nations Security Council.


1517-1518 Brad Schaeffer – Astronomically Easter

schaeferWe enjoyed talking with LSU astronomer Brad Schaeffer about the Star of Bethlehem last year, so we invited him back on the program to give us an astronomical perspective on the Easter holiday, particularly Good Friday.

Astronomers are keepers of the calendar, so astronomical information has a bearing on some of our most important holidays, and may help us cut through some of the ambiguity of the biblical texts.


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