Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1368-1369 Keith Schoville – 2013 Dig Plans and some final words

Prof. Keith Schoville & Prof. Menachem Mansoor,

Prof. Keith Schoville (r.) with his mentor, Prof. Menachem Mansoor, the founder of the University of Wisconsin Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies.

In 1978 when I put together a slide show report on my summer excavating at Tel Aphek I included some music from Kansas, the song Dust in the Wind. Because when you’re excavating household items that people have not touched in 2,000 or 3,000 years, you easily understand how our own lives are such a small slice of recorded history. This month marks 30 years of doing The Book & The Spade radio program, a short period of time on an archaeological scale but a relatively long period of time in a lifespan.

Thirty years ago I had an idea that I wanted to do a radio program that combined my interest in history and the Bible, something I had first started to explore five years earlier when I spent that summer as a volunteer excavating at Tel Aphek. I had started to attend a few meetings of the Madison Biblical Archaeology Society where I met professor Keith Schoville, who taught the Biblical Archaeology class at the University of Wisconsin Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies and authored the textbook Biblical Archaeology in Focus.

So I invited professor Schoville to join me in the recording studio and we recorded a couple of programs. That went pretty well, and we kept doing it. Now here we are 30 years later. Over the years we have reported on some pretty amazing discoveries. Some that sounded like they were too good to be true were in fact so. But others, such as the Tel Dan inscription, the Ketef Hinnom inscription, the 2,000-year old Galilee boat and many more, have given us new insights into the biblical world. Along the way the program has hosted more than 250 archaeologists and biblical scholars to hear first hand about the latest discoveries and developments in biblical research. We’ve also traveled together to Israel to visit the locations we discuss on the program and see where biblical discoveries are still being made through modern archaeology.

Each year, almost since the beginning, we’ve taken a program or two to review the excavations that are planned for the coming excavation season. It gives us a chance to review some of the top archaeology locations and finds, and also to encourage our listeners to enjoy the same experience we’ve both enjoyed, being a volunteer on an excavation. But this is probably our last excavation season review.

On our last trip to Israel together in 2008, professor Schoville celebrated his 80th birthday. Now, five years later, he has announced that he is retiring from The Book & The Spade program. As we recorded the good-bye program I did my best to express my appreciation for professor Schoville. I could not have found a better co-host and he has been a tremendous encourager as well as teacher. Finding a replacement co-host may be a challenge but I’ll have to figure out something because I hope to continue The Book & The Spade for quite some time yet. I hope you’ll bear with me through this time of transition.

In the meantime, professor Schoville would be delighted to hear from any longtime listeners. You can send an email to my address,, and I will be glad to forward any messages to him.


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