Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1122-1123 Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

If you’re going on an archaeological trip to Israel, your best resource is a good guide. And a good guidebook can also be very handy. If you don’t have a guide, or even if you do, Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s guidebook will be helpful.

Actually, one thing it might come in handy for is keeping your guide honest. Some guides are better than others in their archaeological knowledge.

On our most recent 25th anniversary trip to Israel we paid several visits to the Ecole Biblique, which has a number of archaeological distinctives. First of all it’s the home of a large Iron Age tomb complex, within which are buried (still) the bones of many Byzantine monks who lived at St. Stephen’s monastery (as it’s also known). A more modern area of the complex is a mortuary for 19th and 20th century Dominicans who lived at the monastery, many who are well known in the annals of Biblical Archaeology, such as Roland DeVaux, the excavator of Qumran.

The first non-French Dominican to join the faculty of the school, as a professor of New Testament, was Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. He is a much-sought-after authority on Biblical Archaeology, in large part because of the archaeological guide book he authored, called The Holy Land. In addition to his gifts as a teacher and scholar, he has at his disposal one of the best archaeological libraries in Israel at the Ecole Biblique.

So, with the assistance of one of our Jerusalem correspondents, Tom Powers, we were able to arrange an interview with Father Jerry, as he is known. He told us the story of the guide book and offered some additional archaeological insights, for which we were very appreciative.

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One response

  1. Boy, you sure captured an interesting quote at the end of this week’s interview with Father O’Connor: “If the archeologists change their mind, I change my mind. … And when I have a dispute between 2 eminent archeologists, I just take the better story.”

    April 17, 2008 at 11:23 pm

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