Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

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1485-1486 Scott Stripling – Khirbet el-Maqatir 2015 season

Scott Stripling Khirbet el-Maqatir started out as a small dig with about 12 people two decades ago. For the last couple of years it has been the largest dig in Israel with around 62 diggers this year.

Originally begun to test a theory about the location of the city of Ai from Joshua 7-8, it has now developed into a multi-dimensional site with remains from almost a half dozen eras. And yet it’s a ruin (khirbet) and not a tel.

Again this year Scott Stripling fills us in on the discoveries and developments of their 3-week season.

1483-1484 Gary Burge – A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion

A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion book cover This is another fictional account of life in the first century, the time of Jesus, by a New Testament scholar. In order to make biblical research accessible to the average person, books like this engage the imagination and take us back to the same period that we read about in the gospels.

It’s a short book, packed with a lot of biblical information in a very accessible format. I enjoyed reading it and I enjoyed my conversation with Gary Burge, giving the background of the project and some of the perspectives that he included in the book.

About three years ago we interviewed Ben Witherington about his book, A Week in the Life of Corinth.

We are giving away our review copy of this book. If you would like the opportunity to receive this book, you can get details by listening to program #1484.

1482 Clyde Billington – Mask of Pan

Mask of Pan

Mask of Pan

Archaeologists found a bronze mask of the Greek/Roman god Pan at the decapolis city of Hippos/Sussita. Who was Pan and how did he relate to the biblical story? That’s one of the topics we discuss in this program, reporting on news digest items from the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine.

Other topics include an ancient Christian grave yard found in Saudi Arabia, and a cache of Egyptian seals from in the Negev desert.

1480-1481 Ken Dark – Nazareth Archaeology

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Nazareth is the Rodney Dangerfield of Biblical Archaeology, it gets virtually no attention from archaeologists and many pilgrimage tours barely visit the city. Very little is known about Nazareth archaeologically, but there is a little more known now following the work of professor Ken Dark, of the University of Reading Research Center for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies.

In this two-part interview Ken explains some of the reasons why Nazareth has been so overlooked, and what he discovered about a possible site that may have been the childhood home of Jesus.

1479 Clyde Billington – The Chebar River & Fatimid Gold

Fatimid gold coins from Caesarea harbor

Fatimid gold coins from Caesarea harbor

More Biblical Archaeology news from the just-published Spring 2015 issue of ARTIFAX magazine. I’m joined by my co-editor, Clyde Billington, to discuss some intriguing cuneiform tablets now on display at The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, that offer intriguing insights into the Jewish exile in Babylon. One tablet mentions the Chebar River, the only mention of this river outside of the book of Ezekiel.

Several other news items cover discoveries made by non-archaeologists in Israel: gold coins in the harbor of Caeseara (pictured), and silver coins in a cave in the Galilee. Those who discovered these treasures did the right thing, by notifying the authorities right away so the finds could be studied in order to reveal all possible information about the time periods they represent.

1478 Clyde Billington – The Heights of David, Khirbet Qeiyafa

Interviewing Yosef Garfinkel

Interviewing Yosef Garfinkel, excavator of Khirbet Qeiyafa

Professor Clyde Billington, my co-editor on ARTIFAX magazine, has an article in the latest issue taking another look at Khirbet Qeiyafa. This is a site we’ve discussed a number of times because of its role reframing the debate over David and Solomon and the early Iron Age in Israel. Professor Billington draws a possible connection between Khirbet Qeiyafa and the Karnak inscription of Pharaoh Shoshenq.

#1477 Gary Manning – The James Ossuary and the Suspect Tomb of Jesus’ Family

James Ossuary

James Ossuary

Although there always seems to be something interesting happening in Biblical Archaeology (as we regularly say on the program), with new discoveries and developments, there are also times when overly sensationalized claims are promoted. Sometimes these claims are part of an effort to promote a TV program, a book, or a magazine. So sometimes we have to address these issues.

On this program we talk with Gary Manning, a professor of New Testament at Biola University, about claims that have linked the James Ossuary (with the inscription James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus) with a tomb discovered several decades ago in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Because the names on the ossuaries in this tomb sound familiar to Bible readers, the discovery has been sensationalized with unsubstantiated claims linking them to the family of Jesus, and now one of the most sensational ossuaries in the news over the past decade has also been linked with the tomb.

The evidence is just not there.

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