Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

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1603 Remembering Lawrence Stager

Lawrence Stager

Lawrence Stager

Lawrence Stager was one of the pre-eminent American scholars in Biblical Archaeology. He was the Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum. He passed away at the end of 2017, just seven days short of his 75th birthday.

His most enduring legacy will be the Leon Levy expedition to Ashkelon, which he began in 1985 and directed until it ended in 2016.

We did a phone interview in 1992 with professor Stager in which he gave a status report on the Ashkelon excavation, including the discovery of a Middle Bronze Age mud brick gate, the oldest such gate in the world. He also lamented the recent death of one of his most capable protege’s, Douglas Esse, who had lost a battle with cancer.

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1601-1602 John DeLancey – Excavation Plans for 2018

John DeLancey

John DeLancey

An annual tradition on TB&TS is our review of planned excavations for the upcoming year, to give our listeners the broad overview of what’s happening in Biblical Archaeology. This year I’m inviting John DeLancey back on the program for this discussion, since we will be visiting many of these sites during our 2018 TB&TS Holyland Archaeological Adventure Tour coming up in May.

John has lived and studied in Israel and has visited many of these sites on the more than 50 tours he’s led to Israel; he’s also excavated as a volunteer at some of these sites.

The digs we are discussing are, for the most part, the institutional excavations planned by various educational institutions and the Israel Antiquities Authority for 2018. But we also throw in a comment or two and some brief information about salvage excavations, another part of the excavation picture.

1600 Todd Bolen – 2017 Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Stories

the recently excavated Roman Theater in Jerusalem

Archaeologist Joe Uziel, inside the recently excavated Roman Theater along the western wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Our annual Top 10 Biblical Archaeology story is due to be posted by Christianity Today any day now and we’re leaking the list on this program. The top item on our list also happens to be the cover story from the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine.

As for the rest of the Top 10, you’ll have to listen to the program, or else read the story at the Christianity Today website, when it’s posted.

My thanks to Todd Bolen, professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University and editor of Bibleplaces.com for joining me on the program. Todd and John DeLancey, of Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours, were both kind enough to share their thoughts with me as I was putting together this year’s list. This is a subjective list of some of the top discoveries and developments in biblical archaeology in 2017.

620 Charles Aling & Clyde Billington – Historians Look at the Christmas Story

Professors Charles Aling and Clyde Billington

Professors Charles Aling and Clyde Billington

You knew there weren’t three Wise Men in the Christmas story, right? Separating historical details from tradition is what this program is all about.

For several decades I’ve been working with Professors Charles Aling and Clyde Billington on the quarterly magazine ARTIFAX, which summarizes the latest news on biblical archaeology discoveries and developments. And it was about 20 years ago when they joined me on this program for a discussion of some of the historical background of the Christmas story.

1598-1599 Randall Price – Biblical Archaeology in Context

Handbook200Earlier this year when we talked with Randall Price about the discovery of “Cave #12” at Qumran, he invited us to check back with him when his book was published. Well the book is out, it’s called the Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology. It’s a great resource of information about the relevant discoveries in biblical archaeology, book by book.

This handbook makes the final connection to the biblical text that we sometimes fail to make in our discussions about the latest discoveries and developments, and is up-to-date with recent finds. The book also includes some good words about ARTIFAX, our quarterly news magazine about biblical archaeology. We highly recommend this new book.

1597 Clyde Billington – Smashed Pharaoh Statue Head from Hazor

Smashed pharaoh's head

Smashed pharaoh’s head

More news stories from the archaeology news digests of the autumn issue of ARTIFAX magazine, including information on the discovery of the smashed head from a statue of an Egyptian king of the Old Kingdom period that somehow found itself to an archaeological level dated 1,00 years later, at the Canaanite city of Hazor.

Other news stories include the discovery of a possible Canaanite Temple at Tel Burna (believed to be the Old Testament city of Libnah), the discovery of Hellenistic Greek temple at Gadara (overlooking the Sea of Galilee), and a complaint about the city of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

 

1596 Clyde Billington – Jerusalem’s Roman Theater

the recently excavated Roman Theater in Jerusalem

Archaeologist Joe Uziel, inside the recently excavated Roman Theater along the western wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

More stories from the news digest of the Autumn issue of ARTIFAX magazine, including the cover story on the discovery of the first Roman theater ever found in Jerusalem. Although Josephus mentions a Roman theater in Jerusalem in the first century, this new discovery is apparently not that theater, for reasons discussed on the program. This is a very small theater and may have been used for governing purposes, rather than entertainment.

Other topics discussed on this program include the discovery of a Byzantine era mosaic at the Damascus Gate with a connection to the famous Nea Church built by the Emperor Justinian, and the discovery of bullae (clay seal impressions) from the First Temple Period.