The 11 caves in which Dead Sea Scroll materials were found more than a half century ago have been joined by one more cave, cave #12. No new scrolls were found, but archaeologists did unearth evidence of scroll storage jars and related materials left behind by looters who plundered the site decades ago. We discuss this find and several other sites where archaeology is going on this year with John DeLancey, who will be the co-leader of our May 2018 TB&TS Israel Study tour.
In the second program we continue to review some of the most interesting sites in Israel where excavations are planned for 2017. This is an annual feature which gives listeners an idea of where Biblical Archaeology is focused right now, and it also serves to remind listeners that these are all opportunities where volunteers can get involved and do some hands-on biblical research. As William Dever once said, on The Book & The Spade program, “The only new facts about the Bible and the biblical world are coming from the ground.”
Our 2015 Book & The Spade Israel Tour didn’t turn out as I expected, it turned out much better than I expected. We didn’t have as many people as I had anticipated so our travel agent, Imagine Tours & Travel, linked us up with another tour. That had worked well once before, on our 1994 tour, and I wasn’t anticipating any serious problems.
As it turned out, my tour co-leader — Rev. Dr. John DeLancey — is about as good as you can get when it comes to Israel tours. I would rank him right up with some of the other top tour leaders I’ve met. He’s lived and studied in Israel and he’s worked on archaeological excavations. He knows the history and the geography, and you can rely on the information that he shares. Yet he’s a pastor and a musician, so the devotional aspects are also handled sensitively, for the pilgrimage experience.
We had just over a week in Israel, so we couldn’t see a lot, yet he packed the tour with powerful experiences. He knew where to cut corners, in order to keep us on schedule, yet there were times when we lingered and times when we just walked, when that was the best thing to do. His rapport with our guide, Shlomo Ben Asher, was also excellent; the two have led lots of tours together.
I didn’t do a lot of interviews on this trip. But I enjoyed our time in Israel immensely and on the last day, as we visited the Garden Tomb, I sat down with John just to talk about his perspective on visiting the Holyland. His report on our tour was posted on his website, during the tour, so our family and friends could share the experience. I’m still working on my version of the tour report.
I’m already looking forward to our next Book & The Spade tour with John DeLancey.