Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1635 Clyde Billington – Jerusalem Inscription/Scrolls vs. The Codex


Jerusalem inscription

The cover story of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine reports on the discovery of an inscription from 100 BC that mentions Jerusalem. The inscription was found at the west end of modern Jerusalem, near the central bus station. It appears 2,000 years ago this was a small pottery village that served the nearby city of Jerusalem and the pilgrims who visited its temple.

We also discuss a column by Larry Hurtado in the November/December issue of Biblical Archaeology Review which reports that it were the early Christians who pioneered a new innovation in writing, the codex, which eventually displaced the scroll. The evidence is overwhelming, and fascinating.


1634 Stephen Humphreys – American Veterans Archaeological Recovery at Beit Shearim

AVAR symbol

AVAR symbol

In honor of Veterans Day, a program focusing on American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR), a unique program that connects U.S. military veterans with archaeological projects. Stephen Humphreys is a veteran who has begun this program that, last summer, sent a team of volunteers to excavate at Beit Shearim in Israel.

NBC has a report on AVAR.

1633 John McRay – Athens in the Time of Paul

John McRay

John McRay

Digging deep into our archives from the early days of TB&TS, we pulled out this description of the city of Athens as Paul would have seen it during his visit, described in Acts 17. Professor John McRay uses archaeology and textual research to help us understand how that ancient city would have appeared in the first century of the Christian era.

Professor McRay was a professor at Wheaton College at the time of this presentation, he taught there from 1980 to 2002. We were saddened to learn that professor McRay passed away just last August, he was 86. He is the author of several books, including Paul: His Life and Teaching and Archaeology and the New Testament, and coauthor of Bible Archaeology, all published by Baker.

1631-1632 Susan Masten – Museum of the Bible Visit

A Philistine anthropoid ceramic coffin

A Philistine anthropoid ceramic coffin on display in the Museum of the Bible

The Museum of the Bible opened in Washington DC last November and is nearing the one million mark for visitors. There are a lot of Bibles on display, and there is also a lot of archaeology on display. The Israel Antiquities Authority and The Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology both have galleries.

We talked with Susan Masten, Curator of Antiquities, about the museum’s first year, what’s on display, and strategic partnerships. That includes the museum’s sponsorship of a new dig in Israel at Tel Shimron.

1420-1421 Again with Larry Mykytiuk: 50 Real People of the Bible Confirmed by Archaeology

Larry Mykytiuk

Larry Mykytiuk

We are repeating these 2014 interviews with Larry Mykytiuk to promote his upcoming lecture for the Madison Biblical Archaeology Society.

Professor Mykytiuk earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, as a student of our long-time co-host, professor Keith Schoville. His protocol for accepting the reality of biblical characters has been widely recognized and provide us with an interesting historical perspective on the Bible.

1629-1630 John Goldingay – The First Testament & The Reader’s Guide to the Bible

John Goldingay

John Goldingay

Bible translations, and there are multitudes of them available today, attempt to bring a book written years ago in a strange language, into the context of our modern world so that we can understand its message. But the new translation by John Goldingay, The First Testament (InterVarsity Press), moves in the opposite direction. It attempts to drag us back into that biblical world so that we can understand it in its context. That’s how I would describe it, anyway.

In this interview, John describes the importance of a word-for-word Bible translation and how he treated some of the words in a few of the more familiar passages of the Old Testament.

Another of his recent books is The Reader’s Guide to the Bible (also InterVarsity Press), which was written to help Bible readers get a handle on the context of the world’s perennial best seller, which is not as well known and understood as one might expect from the sales figures.

1628 Clyde Billington – Masada and Tel Shimron

Masada, Herod's fortress overlooking the Dead Sea.

Masada, Herod’s fortress overlooking the Dead Sea.

Masada is the most visited national park in Israel and also one of the most important archaeological sites of Israel. In the early 1960s, when Yigael Yadin excavated Masada, it was the first time crowdsourcing was used in archaeology. Yadin invited volunteers to come and work with him, and they did. And ever since, volunteers have been a key component in the institutional archaeological excavations which take place, mostly in the summer, every year.

Masada still has secrets to divulge to excavators even now more than a half century later and some of them are reported in the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Professor Billington and I discuss this report.

We also review another article which describes the beginning of a new excavation in the Jezreel Valley, Tel Shimron. This is an ancient city which at times in history apparently outshone it’s neighbor across the valley, Tel Megiddo. It will be interesting to see what this excavation reveals in the years ahead.

(Masada photo by John DeLancey)