1 wi nt er 05/ 06

Gor don- Conwel l Theol ogi cal Semi nar y
WINTER 05/06 VOL.35 NO.2
2 wi nt er 05/ 06
Board of Trustees
Mr. Joel B. Aarsvold
Mrs. Linda Schultz
Mr. Richard A.
Armstrong, Chair
Dr. George F. Bennett
Dr. Garth T. Bolinder
Rev. Richard P. Camp, Jr.
Mr. Thomas J. Colatosti,
Vice Chair
Mr. Charles W. Colson
Dr. Leighton Ford
Mrs. Joyce A. Godwin
Dr. William F. Graham
Dr. Michael E. Haynes
Mr. Herbert P. Hess,
Dr. John A. Huffman, Jr.
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Mr. Caleb Loring III
Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz
Dr. Christopher A. Lyons
Mrs. Joanna S. Mockler
Fred L. Potter, Esq.
Shirley A. Redd, M.D.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Jr.
David M. Rogers, Esq.
Mr. John Schoenherr
Rev. Ken Shigematsu
Mrs. Virginia M. Snoddy
Mr. John G. Talcott, Jr.
Joseph W. Viola, M.D.,
J. Christy Wilson III, Esq.
Dr. John H. Womack
William C. Wood, M.D.
Emeriti Members
Dr. Allan C. Emery, Jr.
Mr. Roland S. Hinz
Dr. Robert J. Lamont
Mr. Richard D. Phippen
Dr. Paul E. Toms
Dr. Robert E. Cooley,
President Emeritus
Editorial Advisory
Dr. Sidney L. Bradley
Dr. Barry H. Corey
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Dr. Alvin Padilla
Rev. C. Ronald Riley
Dr. Haddon W. Robinson
Dr. Kenneth L. Swetland
Mrs. Nina L. Walters
Mr. David Zagunis
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Chief Development Officer
Mr. Howard Freeman
Director of
and Editor of Contact
Mrs. Anne B. Doll
Assistant Director of
and Assistant Editor
of Contact
Mr. Michael L. Colaneri
Graphic Designer
Ms. Nicole Rim
New Orleans Pastor Sees God’s Protection,
Provision During Hurricane Katrina
athy Dea
Weeping with Those Who Weep
Anne B. Doll
Archaeology and the Reliability
of the Old Testament
John H. Sailhamer
SI DEBAR: The Conquest and Ancient
Near Eastern Warfare:
The Element of Fear
Jeffrey J. Niehaus
SI DEBAR: Archaeology and the Exodus:
A Partial Look
Douglas K. Stuart
What Good Is Biblical Archaeology
to Bible Readers?
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Archaeology and the Reliability of the
New Testament
Sean M. McDonough
SI DEBAR: Justification by Works of
the Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Roy E. Ciampa
SI DEBAR: How Archaeology
Helps Bible Interpretation
Aida Besançon Spencer
SI DEBAR: Archaeology
and the Letters to the
Seven Chuches of Asia
Colin R. Nicholl
The Top 15 Finds from
Biblical Archaeology
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Reading the Bible from a
New Perspective by Remembering
the Old Perspective
Duane A. Garrett
A Pilgrimage to Tell Dothan
Gary D. Pratico
Tell Dothan: Profile of a Buried City
Robert E. Cooley
Trustee Profile: John Talcott
Michael Colaneri
Seminary News
Glossary of Terms
Opening the Word
Haddon W. Robinson
Inquiries regarding CONTACT may be addressed to: Editor,
CONTACT Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
130 Essex Street, S. Hamilton, MA 01982 Tel: 978.468.7111
gordon-conwell theological seminary does not
discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national or
ethnic origin, age, handicap or veteran status.
WI NTER 05/ 06 VOL. 35 NO. 2
Read about the new
Archaeological Study Bible,
a monumental publication
by Gordon-Conwell and
Zondervan due for release
in March 2006.
See page 26.




















3 wi nt er 05/ 06
New Orleans Pastor Sees God’s Protection,
Provision During Hurricane Katrina
athy Dea
Weeping with Those Who Weep
Anne B. Doll
Archaeology and the Reliability
of the Old Testament
John H. Sailhamer
SI DEBAR: The Conquest and Ancient
Near Eastern Warfare:
The Element of Fear
Jeffrey J. Niehaus
SI DEBAR: Archaeology and the Exodus:
A Partial Look
Douglas K. Stuart
What Good Is Biblical Archaeology
to Bible Readers?
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Archaeology and the Reliability of the
New Testament
Sean M. McDonough
SI DEBAR: Justification by Works of
the Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Roy E. Ciampa
SI DEBAR: How Archaeology
Helps Bible Interpretation
Aida Besançon Spencer
SI DEBAR: Archaeology
and the Letters to the
Seven Chuches of Asia
Colin R. Nicholl
The Top 15 Finds from
Biblical Archaeology
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Reading the Bible from a
New Perspective by Remembering
the Old Perspective
Duane A. Garrett
A Pilgrimage to Tell Dothan
Gary D. Pratico
Tell Dothan: Profile of a Buried City
Robert E. Cooley
Trustee Profile: John Talcott
Michael Colaneri
Seminary News
Glossary of Terms
Opening the Word
Haddon W. Robinson
New Orleans Pastor Sees God’s Protection,Provision During
Up to his neck in water, trying to keep two el-
derly women afloat in the putrid waters flooding
New Orleans, pastor Michael Melon cried out to
the Lord, “I’m tired! I’m exhausted! I can go no
“I looked to my right and there, tied to a stop
sign 10 yards away, was a flat-bottom Jon boat.
I thought, ‘The Lord has provided,’” recalled the
bi-vocational pastor of Coliseum Place Baptist
Church, a small 150-year-old inner-city church in
the lower Garden District of New Orleans.
Melon told his personal story of God’s protec-
tion and provision throughout Hurricane Katrina
to students at the University of Mobile in Ala-
bama, where his daughter, Hilary, is a freshman.
“Everybody knew the hurricane was com-
ing, but many were either unwilling or unable to
evacuate the city. I chose to stay behind due to
the many elderly people in my neighborhood who
were unable to evacuate,” Melon said. He sent
his wife, Jeanne, and 15-year-old son, Gregory,
out of town, first to pick up Hilary, then on to
his oldest daughter’s home in Spartanburg, South
Meanwhile, Melon checked on several elderly
neighbors and prepared his home, located just
five blocks from New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary. He had earned bachelor’s and master’s
degrees there before serving two years as a mis-
sionary to Paraguay, South America, through
the International Mission Board of the Southern
Baptist Convention. Melon then earned a Doctor
of Ministry degree in Preaching from the Char-
lotte Campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological
On Sunday, hurricane-force winds lashed at
the city. By 8 a.m. Monday, the Melons’ home
began to take on water. Within half an hour,
there was one foot of water in the house and by
10 a.m. the water had risen to two feet.
The following article
featuring Gordon-Conwell
alumnus Rev. Dr. Michael
Melon (D.Min. 2004) first
appeared on the website
of the University of Mobile
in Alabama. It is excerpted
with permission.
Kathy Dean
New Orleans Overview after Hurricane Katrina. Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
4 wi nt er 05/ 06
There came a moment when Melon questioned his decision
to stay and ride out the storm in his home. He was huddled
in the attic, holding tight to the family’s dog, with the wind
ripping the shingles off the roof just a few feet over his head.
The water had risen to four feet in the one-story house, and
the entire house was shaking as if a freight train were coming
through it.
“I took a Sharpie pen and wrote my name and my wife’s
cell phone number on my body in case I turned up a floater,”
he recalled.
The water continued to rise. When it reached four feet
inside the home, Melon stuffed the dog inside his trench coat
and abandoned his house in the midst of the storm, heading
toward higher ground.
“Trees were blowing over, power lines were snapping,
water was five to six feet in the street. I walked and swam to
the seminary.” There he found shelter for the night. Tuesday
morning after the storm, Melon swam to his house through
streets filled with eight to 10 feet of water.
“The water was filled with gasoline, raw sewage, vari-
ous chemicals, plus the dead bodies of humans and animals,”
Melon said. “I saw bodies floating by and wondered where
they would spend eternity and if their loved ones would ever
find them.”
His home was filled with about six feet of water. He went
to his neighbors’ homes to see who was left behind.
“Across the street was Miss Shirley, a 70-year-old widow
who had spent the day and night and the following day in
neck-deep water inside her home,” Melon said. He forced the
door open and told Miss Shirley he would take her to higher
ground. Together they went to the home of Miss Connie, a 79-
year-old widow from Honduras.
“Miss Connie had crawled up into her attic,” Melon said.
“I called to her but could not enter the home due to the barred
windows and debris.” Using an ax he had brought from his
house, Melon chopped a hole in Miss Connie’s roof and pulled
her out. With Miss Connie on his back and Miss Shirley
hanging onto his shoulder, he pushed, swam and walked the
women for four blocks, keeping their heads above water.
“I couldn’t keep these women above water any longer, and
the water was up to my neck. They were holding on to me
and I was trying to push them and keep them up,” he said.
That’s when he cried to the Lord—and saw the empty boat.
He swam to the boat and brought it back to the two elderly
women, heaving them into the boat and pushing it to dry
“The problem was, dry ground was no safer than the flood
area, due to the looters,” Melon said. “Many had broken into
the post office, stolen postal trucks and were crashing them
into the storefronts to gain access. Many guns were visible in
their hands,” he said, describing it as “a scene out of Somalia
with warlords.”
Just two blocks from the seminary was a drug and reha-
bilitation ministry operated by Melon’s friend, Mel Jones.
Melon and the women made it to the site, which was dry and
relatively safe. For the next two days, Melon paddled the boat
through his neighborhood, rescuing people off their rooftops
and chopping through roofs to rescue them from attics.
“The sound of people trapped in their attic and crying for
help is a sound that will stay with me for the rest of my life,”
he said.
He brought a total of 12 people to safety, while FEMA
workers used the ministry site to bring about 60 people to dry
Because of the increasing violence of looters in the area,
Melon and his friends decided to abandon the city on Wednes-
day evening. They pushed a van through chest-high water onto
the elevated highway and, with eight people aboard, escaped
the city and headed for South Carolina where Melon’s family
was waiting. But God’s providence had not ended.
“We pulled into a truck rest area on Hwy. 55 in McComb,
Mississippi, at about 2 a.m. Thursday,” Melon said. “I stepped
out of the van and this young kid walks up and says, ‘Do you
know how to get to South Carolina?’” That young man was
22-year-old Jamal, whose father drove a school bus for the
New Orleans parish. Jamal’s father had handed him the keys
to the bus and told him
to evacuate the family.
“This young man had
never driven a school
bus. He had loaded up
the family and been
driving in circles in Mis-
sissippi trying to figure
out the way to South
Carolina, and when the
bus was almost out of
gas he pulled into the
same rest area where we
were,” Melon said.
As a bi-vocational pastor, Melon had driven trucks
and buses for a living. He drove the bus with 30 evacu-
ees—and a dog—to South Carolina. “One lady on the bus
said, ‘You needed us and we needed you. God must surely
be working overtime,’” Melon remembered.
Today the road ahead is filled with uncertainty. Before
the storm, Melon worked as a retail accounts representa-
tive for Coca-Cola, and the job is there if he wants it. But
Melon said he can’t see going back to selling carbonated
5 wi nt er 05/ 06
weepi ng
Anne B. Dol l
Hurricane Katrina survivor Mike
Melon recently reread the sobering
opening lines of his doctoral thesis.
“The people had the look of
those who were shell shocked and
had lost everything,” he had written.
“The real problem was, they uere
shell-shocked, ltterall·, and they haJ
lost everything.”
The scene was northern Greece
on the border of Turkey. The year
was 1998, and Mike, now the Rev.
Dr. Michael P. Melon, (D. Min.’04),
was ministering and preaching in a
freezing, barely livable refugee camp
to uprooted victims of the ethnic
civil war in the Balkans States.
“The magnitude of their tragedy
I had never suffered and probably
never would,” he wrote. “Never as
a pastor had I felt such a loss for
words or so inadequate and irrel-
evant to a task.”
Today, as Mike ministers to
Hurricane Katrina victims in his
devastated New Orleans community,
he simply “weeps with those who
When the raging storm plowed a
swath of destruction across the Gulf
Coast, Mike and his family escaped
with their lives. But they, too, lost
everything. Their home and vehicles
are destroyed. Their family his-
tory—cherished photos of weddings,
and children, and parents now de-
ceased—succumbed to flood waters
that topped off at seven feet.
“When you’re ministering to
someone in a neighborhood that’s
lost everything, they know that
you’ve lost everything, too, and
there’s an immediate impact,” he
says. “All you have to do is just sit
there and listen to them...We can’t
restore everybody’s possessions, just
beverages with his city in such need.
His home is a complete loss, but his
church is still standing. He is return-
ing to New Orleans to try to estab-
lish the church as a re-entry site for
people returning to the city.
“I was a bi-vocational pastor. My
church can’t pay me. I’m going to be
stepping out on faith and go full-time
into ministry. There’s a lot of uncer-
tainty right now,” he said.
But there is one thing that is cer-
tain in Michael Melon’s life.
“God is the only sure anchor that
we can hold onto. Psalm 46 says that
God is an ever-present help in times
of trouble. This flood was indiscrimi-
nate in its destruction. It didn’t mat-
ter if you were rich or poor, young or
old, black, white, brown or yellow.
But in the midst of this destruction,
God made His provision tangible and
His presence known.” ´
Kathy Dean is Director of Public Relations at the
University of Mobile.
6 wi nt er 05/ 06
like they can’t restore ours, and people know it. It’s a grieving
process you have to work through, from numbness to anger...
Somewhere you get to acceptance and from there, you move
on, and it’s going to take time.
“What you can say is, ‘Look, we’re here for the long run.
We’ll help you with whatever we can.’”
Miraculously, Mike’s 150-year-old downtown Coliseum
Place Baptist Church, a towering structure with Revival style
architecture and a sanctuary that once seated 750, escaped wa-
ter damage, but felt the brutal impact of high winds that blew
in all the windows and ripped back half the roof. “Right now,
it’s not safe to be in,” Mike says.
Located near the city’s center in a multicultural neigh-
borhood of Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics and
Asians—as Mike describes it, “like all of New Orleans, Jum-
balaya, a mix of everything,” —the church reaches out to the
wealthy who are restoring massive historic homes on one side
of the church, and to the poverty stricken who reside a few
blocks on the other side.
When Mike arrived in 2003, the church had been in decline
for several decades. The church met only on Sunday mornings,
and the 35 to 40 remaining members lived outside the city.
Few, if any, community residents attended Sunday services,
thinking that the church was closed.
Through numerous outreach initiatives, including block par-
ties and Bible Day Camps in the park across the street, Sunday
morning attendance had climbed to about 50. “We did a lot
of things just to let the community know that we were still
in business and there to meet their needs; so we had begun to
see a lot of community interest and community people coming
in,” he explains. “It was as if we had bottomed out and were
beginning to climb upwards when Katrina hit.”
Mike and members of the church who were not displaced
by Katrina are eager to get the church functioning again for
“Our desire is to get the roof fixed, so that as quickly as
possible we can at least open the church as a relocation center
for people as they begin to drift back into the neighborhood,”
Mike comments. “We want to get the building at least safe
and functioning to where we can be a ministry point for food
and clothing, and, if need be, even house people, if they come
back and find that their homes are no longer livable.”
To that end, every week he throws sleeping bags into the
back of his truck—a welcomed gift that he outfitted with a
cab for living and sleeping—and drives 650 miles back to New
Orleans from his oldest daughter’s home in Spartanburg, South
Carolina, his family’s current address.
During the week, he holds church services in members’
homes, most of which escaped serious storm damage; minis-
ters to grieving people suffering the aftermath of trauma and
loss; and works on restoring the church. Through an Adopt-a-
Church program, the Southern Baptist Convention is attempting
to link churches like Mike’s with others across the country for
clean-up and some construction. But the 75 foot high roof will
require expert roofers, and the list for such services is long.
“It’s something you need professionals to come in and
do, so we’re trying to locate financial resources and possibly
professional construction teams that can come in and help us,”
he says.
As a pastor, Mike is dealing with questions common in any
disaster: Is this the judgment of God? If God is a God of love,
how could He allow this to happen? Just a year before Hur-
ricane Katrina, Mike explored such issues in his doctoral thesis
about preaching judgment during times of national and natural
Writing at the time in response to the 9/11 calamity, Mike
noted that during and immediately after a crisis, like preaching
at a funeral, pastors need to preach comfort and grace. “It’s
not a time to preach judgment; it’s just not,” he insists. But he
also addressed extensively the concept of the consequences of
sin, as found in the Minor Prophets.
“New Orleans has a reputation for being a sinful city,”
Mike comments. “It is referred to as the second Sodom and
Gomorrah...I would not say that this (Katrina) is not the
judgment of God. I believe 9/11 was, and I believe this is. The
Lord is beginning to do some things in the United States to
wake us up and say, ‘Look, you’re going to be held account-
able for what you do.’”
Paraphrasing the Old Testament prophet Amos, he notes:
“The Lord says, ‘I sent you flood, I sent you famine, I sent you
warfare, I sent you disease, yet you would not return to me.’
Over and over, it’s repeated that the Lord has sent these many
chastisements, yet the people would not return to him...In
calamities, at the very least, it should cause us to look inward
and say, ‘What is it we need to change? What is it that we
may be involved in that God is not pleased with, whether as a
society or as a church?’
“But even if Katrina is a judgment from God,” he adds,
“it’s still the church’s responsibility and the Christian’s re-
sponsibility to help restore people’s lives so that when they do
get back on their feet, they’ll say, ‘This church was there to
meet our needs. These are people who love and care about us.
There’s something different about these people. When every-
body left the city, when all the government agencies broke
down, when all the government help was not there, the Church
was there to help us. They’re the ones who saw us through
this.’ And that’s what I think would help usher people into the
Kingdom of God.” ´
*A book based on Michael P. Melon’s thesis, Yet You WoulJ Not Return
to Me, was published by Xulon Press in 2004.
Anne B. Doll is Director of Communications at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
7 wi nt er 05/ 06
A!C!A!O!OGYand t he
!!!JA!J!J1Y ol t he
O!D 1!S1AM!!1









8 wi nt er 05/ 06
1he t opi c ol t he hi s t or i cal r el i abi l i t v ol t he Ol d 1es t ament (O1) r ai s es t wo ki nds
ol ques t i ons 1he l i r s t i s whet her t he O1 document s have been accur at el v pr e
s er ved Do t hev r epr es ent what t hei r or i gi nal aut hor s wr ot e and i nt ended t o s av·
Or has t he O1 mes s age s omehow been l os t i n t he cent ur i es l ong s hul l l e ol copv
i ng and r ecopvi ng t he bi bl i cal manus cr i pt s · 1he s econd ques t i on i s whet her as
moder n readers we can rel v l ul l v on t he hi st ori cal accuracv ol t he bi bl i cal wri t i ngs
The concern for the meaning and
accuracy of OT (Hebrew) manuscripts is
the task of Biblical Philology, including
the related studies of Textual Criticism
and the archaeology of ancient Semitic
inscriptions. Tasks such as these can
be carried out only by highly trained
specialists in the Semitic languages of the
Bible. The results of such study are in-
dispensable not only for the lay person’s
confidence in the reliability of the OT,
but also for the scholar’s defense of that
reliability. Much of this work must,
understandably, be carried out behind
the scenes, unnoticed by lay readers, but
under the careful scrutiny of colleagues,
evangelical or otherwise. What is at
stake in this type of work is nothing less
than the historical and scientific grounds
for the claim of all Christians that the
Bible is a faithful and reliable witness to
its original texts and the historical events
they record.
Philologists help us lay the founda-
tions for that claim by demonstrating
that the Bible we hold in our hands
today is the same Bible penned centuries
before the birth of Christ. Though such
tasks may appear to be dry and arcane,
it is helpful to bear in mind that some of
our most popular English writers, such
as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, were
themselves philologists by profession.
What Lewis and Tolkien did for the
study of Old English literature, biblical
philologists do for the Hebrew manu-
scripts of the OT. Philology enables us
to determine the age of biblical manu-
scripts and the language in which they
are written. It also helps us understand
the relationship between biblical He-
brew as a language and the languages
of the ancient Near East. By comparing
the biblical texts to ancient documents
from the biblical era one learns much
about the integrity of the biblical manu-
scripts and their reliability as witnesses
to ancient historical events. Thanks to
the contribution of philology to bibli-
cal studies, we can confidently say that
the biblical Hebrew manuscripts that lie
behind our modern English translations
give every appearance of being histori-
cally linked to authentic ancient Semitic
documents from the earliest periods of
biblical history.
In 1929, archaeologists uncovered a
remarkable cache of clay tablets near
the modern region of Ras Shamra, the
ancient city of Ugarit, on the northern
coast of the Mediterranean Sea. These
texts date from the biblical period of
the Judges. Some of these tablets were
found still lying in the ovens where they
had been baking at the time the city of
Ugarit was destroyed more than 3000
years ago. Of importance to the philolo-
gist is the fact that these tablets were
written in an ancient Semitic dialect



Examples of ancient inscriptions.
9 wi nt er 05/ 06
directly related to the language of the
Bible. Today that language is called
Hebrew. An important outcome of this
discovery is the evidence it provides for
the age and nature of the language of
the Bible. It is not a new language, nor
is it a language unknown at the time
the Bible was written. When the bibli-
cal manuscripts are compared with these
early Ugaritic tablets, it is evident that
the biblical texts have preserved a very
ancient form of the language of that
period. This is especially true of the
poetic texts. They are not rewritten or
modernized versions of the language of
earlier texts. They bear all the earmarks
of the actual language of the Canaanites
during the biblical period. It would have
been impossible to imitate or artificially
stage the kind of close identity that ex-
ists between the language of the OT and
that of the early Canaanites of the OT
One of the most far reaching archaeolog-
ical finds of the last half century has been
the discovery of what
have become known as
the Dead Sea Scrolls.
These scrolls are the
remains of an ancient
library of manuscripts
stashed away in caves
more than 2000 years ago. Of primary in-
terest is the wealth of biblical manuscripts
found among these scrolls, most of them
dating from the first and second centuries
B.C. Much has been written about this
discovery and much more remains to be
written. Needless to say, they cast a great
deal of light on the history of the biblical
manuscripts. In these texts we have actual
manuscripts and parts of manuscripts of
the Bible that go back to only a few short
centuries from the time of the final com-
position of many of the books of the Bi-
ble. The similarity between these ancient
manuscripts and our more recent Hebrew
texts shows that the scribes who copied
and handled them were as cautious and
exacting as modern biblical scholars.
The second question we have raised
above regarding archaeology’s contri-
bution to the reliability of the OT is
whether the historical events recounted
in the OT actually happened as they are
recounted. Did the biblical authors get
it right when they wrote these histories?
Here we must lay aside our philological
tools and become historians. That means
we are faced with the task of recon-
structing the events recorded in the Bible
and attempting to identify them with
known historical events from the ancient
Near East. Such comparisons of the OT
with ancient history make it possible to
measure how close the biblical writers’
accounts were to the modern historians’
understanding of what “actually hap-
In attempting to get a fix on both
biblical and secular historical events,
archaeology is of prime importance.
After nearly a century of serious digging,
biblical archaeologists have reached a
broad consensus on how the bits and
pieces of the historical puzzle should fit
together. In viewing the total picture, the
pieces supplied by modern archaeolo-
gists fit remarkably well with the picture
supplied by the biblical narratives. It
is, thus, widely acknowledged that, on
balance, the events recorded in the OT
Scriptures should not only be taken as
historical in the true sense of the term,
that is, they actually happened, but also
they should be considered as a close, if
not exact, replica of the actual events of
the ancient world.
Such knowledge of the history of
Israel, both in and apart from the Bible,
is essential for demonstrating the truth-
fulness of the biblical account. When
we claim the Bible is true, we take that
to mean it is historically factual and
accurate. But how can we know it is
historically accurate without knowing
something of the events it is describing?
How do we know that biblical history
conforms to the events of ancient history
unless we know what those events were
and how they happened? Before the rise
of modern historiography, readers of the
Bible were more or less obliged to take
the reliability of the Bible at face value.
Scriptural reliability and accuracy was a
matter of trust in the biblical writers. If
the Bible appeared to be making a claim
to be historically accurate, being the
Word of God, it warranted the reader’s
trust that it would make such claims
with moral integrity. Since Moses wrote
the Pentateuch and Moses was a man of
integrity, one needn’t worry about the
accuracy of his work because he could
be trusted to tell the truth.
The situation today is quite different.
Few today would venture the argu-
ment that the OT is historically reliable
merely because its authors were morally
upright. As important as such an issue
may be, it cannot be allowed a central
role in biblical apologetics. In today’s
world, it is expected that biblical truth,
in so far as that means historical reli-
ability, must pass through the same fiery
trials as other documents claiming to be
historical. That means the Bible must of-
ten fend for itself in the arena of secular
history, and in the face of an historical
skepticism that places in doubt not only
the central tenets of biblical history, but
also any kind of history that involves a
faith commitment up front.
The question raised by such a “mini-
malist” position is how to account for
such a sudden change of attitude about
not only the Bible’s historical reliability
but also the reliability of nearly every
kind of historical ac-
count. Has there been
a fundamental change
in the field of biblical
archaeology? Has there
been a surge of new
archaeological discover-
ies which have turned biblical proofs
into doubts about the Bible? What has
been the source of such negative at-
tacks on both the Bible and history in
general? While it may be true that times
have changed and new sorts of ques-
tions must be asked and answered about
the Bible, it is also true that this new
attitude about history and the Bible has
arisen not out of new evidence about
past events, but rather out of deep
seated problems that have beset histori-
cal research in general. It is in response
to such changes in historical method
that I want to make the following four
1. The increasingly negative tone of
some historians and archaeologists is not
the result of new findings or new dis-
coveries at the ancient biblical sites. The
fact is that recent discoveries unearthed
by archaeologists have continued to pro-
duce historical evidence in support of the
Bible. In 1993, for example, at the height
of the new negativity within scholarly
circles, an inscription was unearthed
from the 9th Century B.C. which men-
tions the name of David, the first king of
Such knowl edge ol t he hi st or v ol Jsrael bot h i n
and apar t l rom t he !i bl e i s essent i al l or demon
st rat i ng t he t r ut hl ul ness ol t he bi bl i cal account



10 wi nt er 05/ 06
the Southern Kingdom. At the same time
the new archaeologists were presuming
the stories of David to be fiction, this
inscription established that David was a
real historical figure.
2. The increasingly negative tone of
some historians and archaeologists is also
not the result of showing that past dis-
coveries of archaeologists were in error.
Much of the work of past archaeologists
which substantiated the biblical history
still stands—in most cases more than ever
before. The difference lies in how these
earlier discoveries are now interpreted.
An example of this comes from one of
the most dramatic pieces of historical
evidence yet to be uncovered by Egyptolo-
gists. It was discovered over a century
ago. It is the 13th Century B.C. inscrip-
tion of the Egyptian king Merneptah
which mentions a people called “Israel”
along with biblical place names such as
Canaan and Ashkelon. There could not
be a stronger proof of the accuracy of the
Bible than this inscription. Here in one
of the king’s own inscriptions, we have
the mention of the people “Israel” by an
Egyptian king hundreds of years before
modern “minimalist” archaeologists be-
lieve there was an Israel.
3. The increasingly negative tone of
some historians is the result of a funda-
mental shift in the way biblical history
is conducted. Put simply, according to
the biblical “minimalists,” the biblical
record cannot and should not play a role
in reconstructing biblical history. It is, of
course, valuable to view ancient history
without an undue emphasis on the Bible.
There are many persons and events in the
ancient world not mentioned in the Bible.
The problem, however, is that after these
archaeologists have reconstructed the
biblical history without the biblical text,
they go on to accuse the Bible of getting
it wrong because it does not conform to
their newly reconstructed version of that
history. The fact is, the only other written
history of ancient Israel ever available
comes from the Bible. They, thus, judge
the biblical version against their own ver-
sion of its history. One would think the
Bible should at least be allowed to speak
on its behalf and give its own version
of the events it records. Both versions,
the biblical one and the secular one,
should be evaluated against the available
To give one example, the archaeo-
logical starting point of the history of
the dynasty of David and Solomon has
always been the remains of monumen-
tal structures from the 10th Century
B.C. These structures were dated to this
period because it was assumed they were
related to the kingdoms of David and
Solomon, which the Bible credits with
the origin of the monarchy. Without the
biblical picture by which to evaluate the
archaeological remains, these monumen-
tal structures could also be dated to the
9th Century and hence, to the time after
David and Solomon. With such a view
of the evidence, it would appear that the
actual origins of the great Israelite mon-
archy came after the time of David and
Solomon. The Bible thus appears to be a
hundred years off target. But, it is only
by discounting the biblical record in the
first place that these historians are able to
conclude the Bible has mixed up its dates.
If the Bible is allowed to speak for itself,
it conforms without a hitch to the exist-
ing archaeological evidence.
4. The last observation is complex,
but it lies at the heart of the debate over
history and the Bible. What the new
historians and archaeologists are often
saying is that their evidence sometimes
contradicts what earlier archaeologists
said about the Bible. Put this way, it is
not a question of the historical reliability
of the Bible as much as it is a question
of the historical reliability of the work of
earlier archaeologists. The question is not
so much whether the Bible is true as it is
whether the dominant theories of great
biblical archaeologists were true. What
often goes unsaid in these debates is that
sometimes, in order to get their facts to
fit the Bible, earlier archaeologists (such
as William F. Albright) made assumptions
about biblical history that contradicted
the Bible itself. The negative work of the
new archaeologists therefore can lend
valuable support to biblical history by
undermining previous false assumptions
about that history.
The past generation of archaeolo-
gists, under the leadership of Albright,
for example, unanimously assumed that
Israel’s exodus from Egypt occurred dur-
ing the time of the 19th Dynasty in Egypt
under the reign of Ramesis II. Based on
that chronology, earlier historians and
archaeologists assumed the Bible to be
in error when it recorded the destruction
of the city of Jericho by the Israelites.
Jericho, they argued, was destroyed more
than a century before the Israelites left
Egypt and entered Canaan. According to
their chronology, Jericho was already in
ruins by the time Israel had left Egypt. If
they had followed the biblical chronology,
however, it would have placed the exodus
in the time of the 18th dynasty, more
than a century earlier and at roughly the
time of the destruction of Jericho. There
is, thus, often a need for a correction, not
of the Bible, but of the assumed results of
earlier historical reconstructions.
The study of history and biblical
archaeology is a complex task. The bot-
tom line in the above observations is
that the new archaeologists (minimalists)
are sometimes guilty of passing on their
judgments about biblical history without
considering all the evidence. No one is
suggesting they must take the Bible as
true in order to use it in reconstructing
biblical history. They should, however,
take the Bible seriously as at least one
version of that history worthy of consid-
eration and evaluation.
To be sure, attempts to rethink the
results of past work are admirable. While
much of it might be called “revisionist”
history, some of it may represent a seri-
ous attempt to look at the evidence in a
new light. Biblical minimalists, however,
are wrong in discounting the biblical
narratives as part of the evidence. Biblical
narratives as a whole cannot always be
treated as eyewitness accounts. Much of
the book of Kings, for example, records
events several hundred years earlier than
the time of its composition. That does
not mean that these narratives are spun
out of thin air. Here is where evangelicals
may serve a valuable (if unappreciated)
purpose in the larger scheme of things.
They, as few others, are prepared to take
these biblical texts at face value and ask
how they fit into what historians and
archaeologists tell us happened. ´
Dr. John Sailhamer is
Professor of Old Testa-
ment and Hebrew at
Southeastern Baptist
Theological Seminary
in Wake Forest,
North Carolina, and
is past-president of
the Evangelical Theo-
logical Society. He is the author of numerous books,
including An Introduction to Old Testament Theology,
Genesis Unbound and The Pentateuch as Narrative, A
Biblical-Theological Commentary.
11 wi nt er 05/ 06
The Bible celebrates Rahab the prostitute for her faith, and rightly
so (Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25). She not only hides the spies that Joshua
sends to scope out Jericho and the land, but she also makes a
great confession: “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and
on earth below” (Josh 2:11). This is her statement of faith, and
with it she abandons a lifetime of polytheism, which in Canaan,
and throughout the ancient world, believed in “the great gods of
heaven and earth.” For Rahab there is now only one God, the
God of Israel.
But before that statement of faith, Rahab also makes an impor-
tant observation, and that is, “I know that the Lord has given this
land to you, and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that
all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you”
(Josh 2:9). Her statement shows us two things: that the Lord has
been faithful to his earlier promise to Israel, and that the Lord is
doing in fact what the pagans thought their gods sometimes did.
We owe our knowledge of the first point to the Bible, and our
knowledge of the second point to the steady work of archaeolo-
gists and translators.
The fear of the Canaanites shows that the Lord has been faith-
ful to his promises. It is true that the people in Jericho are afraid
because they have heard what the Lord did to the Egyptians at
the Red Sea, and to Sihon, and Og, the Amorite kings east of the
Jordan (Josh 2:10-11). But it is also true that the Lord had prom-
ised to do something else: to send his fear upon the Canaanites, so
that they would be unmanned by it, and more easily defeated by
the Israelites. God had promised this through Moses: “I will send
my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation
you conquer” (Ex 23:27). God had also predicted it through Moses
when he celebrated Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea: “The people
of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall upon them.
By the power of your [i.e., the Lord’s] arm they will be still as a
stone” (Ex 15:15-16).
We now know, from other ancient near eastern sources, that
pagans also thought their gods could send fear in advance, to en-
sure an enemy’s defeat. A good example comes from Assyria. The
Assyrian king, Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 B.C.), complains that
his Babylonian vassal has broken covenant with him by raiding
his territory. He addresses his complaint to Shamash, the sun god,
who oversees treaties and laws, and who, interestingly, was com-
monly called “the Great Judge of heaven and earth” (cf. Josh 2:11;
Gen 18:25). Shamash answers his prayer, with the following result:
“But Kashtiliash, because of what the decision of the gods sought,
changed his mind, withdrawing at the word of Shamash, and
fearing the hostility of the gods...the decision of the Powerful King
[i.e., Shamash] bound his body like a vampire.” The Babylonian
vassal then articulates his fear: “Now do I feel terror for my land;
grave is the punishment of my misdeeds! A penalty which I had
The Conquest and Ancient Near Eastern Warfare:

Jeffrey J. Niehaus, Ph.D.
not feared is about to overwhelm me; death envelops me! The
oath of Shamash oppresses me.” We see that Shamash judges the
Babylonian king, and he does so by gripping his heart with fear.
In that condition, as the poem narrates further, he makes irratio-
nal military decisions and leads his army to defeat at the hands of
the Assyrian overlord.
If we ask how there can be such a theological parallel between
a pagan source and the biblical account, the Bible seems to offer
a brief but adequate explanation. The source of false religion is
demonic. For example, Moses sadly prophesies about Israel that,
once they have conquered the land and settled it, they will “sac-
rifice to demons, which are not God—gods they had not known,
gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear” (Dt
32:17). Later, the psalmist shows that this prophecy came true:
“They worshiped their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
They shed innocent blood
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan” (Ps 106:36-38).
Paul likewise says that “the sacrifices of pagans are offered to
demons, and I do not want you to be participants with demons”
(1 Cor 10:20), and he warns Timothy against “deceiving spirits,
and things taught by demons” (1 Tim 4:1).
According to the biblical testimony, ancient near eastern
religions were demonic in origin. The enemy, seeking to produce
a counterfeit religion, naturally produced lies that had a ring of
truth. The concept that a god would send fear in advance to un-
man an enemy is part of such a counterfeit. So is the fact that, in
one example, Shamash, the “Great Judge of heaven and earth,”
does this to a covenant breaker. The ancients knew, and John
rightly tells us, that “fear has to do with punishment” (1 Jn 4:18).
But we, like Rahab, have come to know the one true God. And he
“has not given us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, of love,
and of self-control” (2 Tim 1:7). ´

Thompson, R. Campbell, and Mallowen, M. E. L., “The British Museum Excava-
tions at Nineveh,” Untverstt· of Ltver[ool Annals of Archaeolog· anJ Anthro[olog·,
Vol. XX (1933), p. 135.
Dr. Jeffrey
Niehaus is
Professor of
Old Testament
at Gordon
Conwell Theo-
logical Semi-
nary. He has
published articles in the Journal
of Biblical Literature, Vetus
Testamentum, the Journal of the
Evangelical Theological Society,
and the Tyndale Bulletin. He has
published two commentaries,
Amos and Obadiah, and a book,
God at Sinai.
An image of a sacrificial altar
photo courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org
12 wi nt er 05/ 06
Archaeology’s Indirect Evidence
Archaeology is the study of what can be
learned from what people in the past
left behind. When you’re just passing
through a place, you don’t leave much
behind. (What lasting impact do you have
on a motel when you’ve stayed there for
a night, or a campsite when you’ve tented
there for a couple of days?) Accordingly,
we would hardly expect to find a lot of di-
rect archaeological evidence of the Israelite
exodus, especially for the exact route they
took as they fled from Egypt under God’s
special protection, since they were, for the
most part, only passing through the various
places they visited.
Yet there are many indirect ways that
archaeology helps us understand the exo-
dus, since archaeology allows us to take
bits and pieces of knowledge about the
ancient world from the remains we can dig
up, and infer from these bits and pieces
something of what was going on generally
in those days, and sometimes even specifi-
cally at a given location thousands of years
after the fact. Using the bits and pieces that
have come to light, let’s consider some of
what we can understand about a part of
the Israelite exodus as it is described in a
portion of Exodus 13 and 14.
Archaeology and the General Picture of
the Exodus
From the archaeological evidence that
bears on Israel’s wilderness journey to
Sinai (Exodus 13:17-19:25, but particularly
chs. 13 and 14), a certain kind of picture
emerges: For one thing, we can tell that the Israelites had much to
learn. At the beginning of this block of biblical narrative, they had
just begun to leave Egypt, where they had been for so long leaderless
and subjugated that their entire way of thinking tended to reflect that of
people who owed their identity to their plight. They knew themselves as
victims of the tyranny of the ancient world’s greatest contemporary po-
litical-military-economic power. They knew one place to live: the Gosh-
en area of northeast Egypt. They had never been allowed military arms
or the knowledge of how to use them, even though God had just begun
to organize them as his army. They were not used to direct guidance
from God, and understood little of the power of his presence among
them. They operated with the usual assumptions of most people trying
to understand the workings of God: a good and powerful god would
hardly allow his people to go through troubles, dangers, griefs and
testings, would he? Their reasoning led them naturally to think: If
God is all-powerful and can oppress the Egyptians via the plagues
while sparing us, his people, entirely, we can now expect him to take
care of all our wants and desires just as we define them, can’t we?
The Exodus narrative takes the reader from Egypt to Sinai, and in
the process through various hardships that the Israelites experienced:
being pursued by Pharaoh’s vastly superior army, lack of water at
various locations where God led them (what sort of god would tell
his people to encamp where they couldn’t even get a drink or water
their flocks?), boredom with the same food day after day, being at-
tacked and having to fight their first battle—against a fighting force
experienced in projecting power in the very wilderness that they were
in—having disputes in such numbers that they needed a multi-tiered
court system, and finding out that getting too close to a holy God was
deadly. In all these events, however, God was at work to bring his
people to a right relationship with him and to teach them dependence
on his provision for them. He was shaping and educating them, al-
lowing them to learn (frequently the hard way, since that is all too
often the only way people really learn a lesson) what it meant to trust
him in all sorts of situations. In addition, he was treating them in a
way that has always been difficult for people to accept: he was not
telling them everything they wanted to know. He told them what they
needed to know in order to become his covenant people and in order
to receive his salvation. They wanted to know much more, however:
where to find water right away, how much longer this or that would
last, how to be comfortable, how to avoid problems and dangers, how
to get out of situations that they didn’t enjoy being in. Telling God
how to do things and complaining about the things he does or doesn’t
do have always been rather popular enterprises. The Israelites on the
way to Sinai did not hesitate to indulge in them.
Archaeology and Reasons for an Irregular Exodus Route (13:17-14:4)
Exodus 13:17-18 reads as follows: When Pharaoh let the people go,
God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country,
though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might
change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around
by the desert road toward the Red Sea.”
Since the newly-forming Israelite army was entirely untested, the
first reason for an irregular
exodus route was the presence
of the Philistines on the Asian
coast of the Mediterranean,
i.e., virtually on Egypt’s north-
east border.
No definitive
documentation of Philistine
military strength at the time
of the exodus has survived
from the ancient world. We
know, however, that the
Philistines were so daunting a
fighting force at the time of the
conquest, 40 years later and
beyond, that even at Joshua’s
death their territory remained
unconquered (cf. Josh 13:1-5)










13 wi nt er 05/ 06
We also know that they were bold enough to attack Egypt proper
in an effort to capture territory in the days of Ramses III, i.e., about
1188 BC
, suggesting that they considered themselves at that time—
considerably after the Israelites had entered Canaan—potentially
able to defeat even the Egyptians. Accordingly, God did not want his
people to try to enter Canaan directly via the well established coastal
road from Egypt, the Via Maris, even though that was by far the
shortest and easiest route from the point of view of travel time and
theoretical convenience. The Via Maris led right through the heart
of Philistine territory. Based on their behavior as recorded in Judges
and 1 Samuel, the Philistines were looking to expand their territorial
control, and would hardly have been willing to let the Israelites
enter Canaan, on which they themselves had designs, without an all-
out fight.
By contrast, according to the Merneptah Stela
, Israel was not
yet regarded as a nation, but merely as a people group even as late
as 1230 B.C., a fact that may be taken as confirming the consistent
biblical indications of their relative weakness militarily and politically.
At least that is the sort of scenario that comports precisely with the
picture painted in Exodus and in the books of Judges and 1 Samuel.
Could God have destroyed the Philistines on behalf of the Isra-
elites? Of course. But the Philistines had so far done nothing to the
Israelites, and so were not in the same category as the Egyptians, who
well deserved the punishment they had already received and were
about to receive more of (i.e., their defeat at the Red Sea). More-
over, the Philistines were latecomers to Palestine, as compared to the
Amorites/Canaanites, and therefore did not fall under the blanket
condemnation of the “sin of the Amorites” that God had announced
to Abraham in Genesis 15:16 as the basis for the conquest of Canaan.
So the Philistines were to be dealt with later
rather than immediately;
it was not part of God’s plan that they should be fought and subdued
at this early stage. He, therefore, did not call Israel to try to conquer
Philistine territory, and had they tried on their own to do so they
would surely have been defeated, just as happened when they tried
later, on their own, to defeat the Canaanites (Num 14:44-45).
Without God’s help, he knew, if they face war, they might change
their minds and return to Egypt. Would Israel really be so inconsistent
as to give up the conquest and return to Egypt—of all places? And
would they do so after all that they had seen and experienced in the
10 plagues? The answer is “yes”—decidely “yes.” Not only did this
very plan to return to Egypt actually occur less than two years later
(Num 14:3, 14), but one must not forget that the Israelites were ac-
customed only to Egypt; they had lived nowhere else for 430 years.
A properly chastised Egypt, which had perhaps “learned its lesson”
about mistreating the Israelites by force of the plagues, might have
seemed to them the very place they would now be most safe and
happy, especially if they had been beaten in war by the Philistines (as
would be certain without divine aid) and therefore would feel justified
in giving up on any plan to enter Canaan. God knew their limited
perspectives and naïve expectations full well, and thus led them away
from Philistine territory.
God’s compassionate words in Exodus 13:17, “if they face war,
they might change their minds and return to Egypt,” demonstrate his
concern for the unpreparedness of the Israelites to fight any other
military force at this point. Thus, a forttort, God makes clear that
the Egyptian army, far superior to that of the Philistines, would have
crushed Israel in any normal military encounter. The reader is there-
fore prepared by this statement for the expectation that Israel will
have little success in any future battle without special divine interven-
tion—and, indeed, that is exactly what was required at the Red Sea
(14:5 ff)
, Rephidim (17:8 ff) and thereafter throughout virtually all
of Israel’s history. Accordingly, the divine defeat of the Egyptian army
at the Red Sea would constitute an essential part of the deliverance
of the people and a means of their encouragement to follow Yahweh
from Egypt, and not back thereto.

What, then, to do to avoid trying to go through Philistine-held ter-
ritory into the promised land? The answer was for God to lead them
in a very different direction and on a different road, i.e., by the desert
road toward the Red Sea.
Moses reminds his readers in Exodus
13:18 that the Israelites were God’s army: The Hebrew actually says,
“The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt organized by fifties.”
Fifties were the one of the smallest fighting units, what might be called
today “squads.” The term does not literally refer to groups of 50 men
but is part of the “thousand-hundreds-fifties-tens” language employed
to delineate military units.

The Israelites were at this point hardly armed at all. Later, they
would carry mainly short swords (cf. Exod 32:27). The short sword
was a common armament of the day, but the overall evidence suggests
that the Israelites were less trained than other ancients at this point
in their history in all war skills, and were particularly deficient in
archery, spear throwing, and slinging.
Formed up for battle they may
have been—after a fashion. Trained for battle they were not, however.
There had been no permission or opportunity for learning martial
arts under the Egyptians, and the fact that Israelite men could count
themselves into (unarmed) squads themselves did not mean that they
were, in fact, a capable fighting force on their own. ´
Dr. Douglas R. Stuart is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-
Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachu-
setts. He is the author of many books, including Old Testament
Exegesis (Westminster Press), How To Read the Bible for All Its
Worth (with G.D. Fee, Zondervan), Hosea-Jonah (Word Biblical
Commentary), and A Guide to Selecting and Using Bible Com-
mentaries (Word).
images courtesy of www.bigfoto.com
14 wi nt er 05/ 06
t o Bi bl e Readers?
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ph.D.
1, 3, 4 Beersheba Iron Age excavation site
2 Tower in Jerash
5 Pot found in Carthage excavation site
the southwest corner of the
Temple Mount and found a
huge stone arch (now known
as Robinson’s Arch) attached
to the large retaining wall of
the mount.
But archaeology took on
a life of its own when Sir
Flinders Petrie, an Egyptolo-
gist and British archaeologist,
began excavating Tell el-Hasi
in the Negev desert south of
Jerusalem in the beginning 1890s. Petrie
established the use of stratigraphy and
ceramic typology to enable excavators to
determine a relative chronology. Petrie
analyzed the manmade layers of human
debris to set a context for any arti-
facts and ruins found. He also used the
broken shards of pottery, of which there
was a super abundance on each site,
to give a relative sequence of time, for
pottery styles had a tendency to change
as much as current day dress fashions or
car models, and “dishes” in those days
broke as easily (if not more so) than
today. Thus, there were thousands of
shards in every tell (archaeological site).
But the young science of Biblical
Archaeology waited for the arrival in
the 1920s of one who would later be
called the Dean of American Biblical
Archaeology, William Foxwell Albright
(1891-1971), a professor of Semitic
languages at Johns Hopkins Univer-
sity. Just as illustrious was the work of
Rabbi Nelson Glueck (1900-1971), a U.S.
archaeologist and President of Hebrew
Union College from 1947 to 1971.
Albright used archaeology to challenge
some aspects of the documentary theory,
a popular view of the famous German
literary critic, Julius Wellhausen, who
taught that there was no real history in
the Bible until the time of the post-Exilic
period of Haggai and
Malachi. Following his
line of reasoning, Noah,
all the patriarchs, Joshua,
David, all the kings of
Israel and Judah, not
to mention the exodus,
conquest, and captivities,
were historically without
any support in reality.
Albright and Glueck
led an older generation
of Biblical Archaeologists. While neither
would subscribe to a view of biblical
inerrancy, Glueck would famously say:
“...it may be stated categorically that no
archeological discovery has ever con-
troverted a biblical reference” (Nelson
Glueck, Rtvers tn the Desert, 1959, p.
31). Likewise, Albright wrote, “Dis-
covery after discovery has established
the accuracy of innumerable details
of the Bible as a source of history”
(W.F.Albright, The Archaeolog· of Pal-
esttne, 1954 edition, p. 128).
But things were beginning to
change. For example, two archaeolo-
gists from the same family, Sir Frederic
George Kenyon (1863-1952) and his
daughter, Kathleen Kenyon (1906-1978),
both became renowned British archae-
ologists. The father was trained as a
So tell me: Did the biblical writers
think they were telling the truth, i.e.,
the story as it really happened? Or,
instead of giving us a “narrative his-
tory,” did the writers of Scripture have
some genuine sources and facts, but they
manipulated them and, thus, gave us
well-intentioned propaganda, a sort of
“historicized myth?” Which is correct?
To help answer this question, a
relatively new science entered the scene
in the mid-1880s—Biblical Archaeology.
Two Americans, a noted geographer
named Edward Robinson, and a Yale
graduate and Congregational minis-
ter named Eli Smith, together identi-
fied more than 100 biblical sites, using
topographical surveys and some limited
excavation. In particular, Robinson
created a sensation when he excavated
1 2
15 wi nt er 05/ 06
New Testament Greek and classicist
scholar, while his daughter majored in
modern history and field archaeology.
F. G. Kenyon’s book, The Btble anJ
Archaeolog· (1940) found that archae-
ology corroborated the history of the
Bible; but his daughter seldom relied on
any evidence from the biblical text, and
argued against its history, especially the
fall of Jericho.
Why did this change occur? Moder-
nity incorrectly concluded that Biblical
Archaeology had a “fundamentalist
agenda” to validate the historicity of
the narrative in the Bible. Moreover,
a famous principle was stated in 1974
that the materials of archaeology should
not be evaluated on the basis of written
texts such as the Bible. Thus, Biblical
Archaeology began to fade as a disci-
pline in many quarters, to be replaced
by regional study now known as Syro-
Palestinian Archaeology. Accordingly,
somewhere in the 1970s archaeology was
no longer connected in many quarters
to the Bible; the new archaeology now
was a secular science with little or no
attention to the Scriptures. Truth in
religion, it was affirmed in this postmod-
ern thought, was now independent of the
facts, events and persons in history, as
well as independent of the Bible.
Two of Albright’s students, George
Ernest Wright (1909-1974) and John
Bright (1908-1995), seemed to notice
what was coming in the 1970s and tried
to show the importance of the factuality
of the major events in the Bible. Wright
warned that we should pay “close at-
tention to the facts of [biblical] history
.... because these facts are the facts of
God.” “Now in Biblical faith everything
depends upon whether the central events
actually occurred.... [W]e must indeed
take history seriously as the primary
data of faith” (G. Ernest Wright, GoJ
Who Acts, 1952, p. 38 and p. 126f).
This was not to “prove” one’s faith by
archaeology or history, but it did argue
that the difference between folly and
faith was clear: folly was trusting some-
thing when there was no basis for doing
so, while faith was trusting on the basis
of adequate evidence or fact.
In light of the continuing discover-
ies of artifactual material, and especially
the thousands of ancient written texts
on clay tablets, monuments, ostraca,
parchments and papyri, it is becoming
more and more difficult to declare, as
some want to do, the failure of archaeol-
ogy as an interpretive tool that had so
often supplied exactly what was needed
for modern readers to appreciate the
contextual settings, preferred textual
readings, and validity of the events of
the narratives that carry the message of
the gospel.
It is rather amusing to hear such
serious declamations as: “King David is
a mere legend invented just as other bib-
lical stories were.” “David is as historical
as King Arthur of the Round Table
Knights.” And then to learn that on July
21, 1993, just as Israeli archaeologists
were concluding their work for the day
on the Israelite city of Dan in upper
Galilee, Gila Cook, a team surveyor,
noticed an unusual shadow in a part of a
recently exposed wall. On examining the
flat basalt stone, she saw what looked
like Aramaic letters. Immediately she
called over the team leader, Avraham
Biram of the Hebrew Union College in
Jerusalem, and he exclaimed, “We have
an inscription.”
A year later, two additional frag-
ments of what turned out to be a stele
were found to fit together with the basalt
stone. The inscription on the first stone
talked, for the first time in any archaeo-
logical find, about the “house of David.”
Moreover, the additional fragments
made it clear that the Syrian king Hazel
of Aram fought against King Ahaziah
of Judah and King Jehoram of Israel,
a battle scholars now believe is the one
described in 2 Chronicles 22:5.
Here is just one example of how a
serendipitous find can have such power-
ful bearing on illuminating the biblical
text. It can also obliterate proud boasts
to the contrary in one fell swoop, even
though the mission of Biblical Archae-
ology is not to prove or disprove the
Bible. Our attitude as believers must
be the same as the system of American
jurisprudence that says the text is inno-
cent until proven guilty! We must start
by taking the Bible on its own terms
and learn that the main criterion be-
tween real historians and myth-makers
is to determine what were the writer’s
truth-intentions or straightforward as-
sertions. Then, wherever we have the
occasional archaeological find to help us
validate the setting, we can learn once
again that the writers of Scripture did
tell the truth. ´

t o Bi bl e Readers?
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.,
is President and Colman
M. Mockler Distinguished
Professor of Old Testament,
Gordon-Conwell Theological
Seminary. An internationally
recognized Old Testament
scholar, Dr. Kaiser continues
his classroom teaching
and is a popular Bible
preacher and teacher at churches and confer-
ences throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has
authored over 30 books, among them, Revive
Us Again: Biblical Insights for Encouraging
Spiritual Renewal, Toward An Old Testament
Theology and A History of Israel.
Photos courtesy of Gary D. Pratico
3 4 5
16 wi nt er 05/ 06
A ! C ! A !O! O GY
A!D 1!! !!!JA!J!J1Y O! 1!! !!V 1!S1AM!!1
Sean M McDonough !hD
This well-known verse from John 1:14 might seem a poor choice
to introduce an article about New Testament archaeology, since
broken columns and crumbling pots seem about as far from
“flesh” as they could be. Yet the material remains of the first cen-
tury serve as vivid reminders that Jesus did not inhabit the flan-
nel-graph universe of our childhood. He really did take up flesh
and walk among us. And what is true for him was true of James
and Paul and Mary and Peter, as well. Thus, synagogue ruins in
Palestine, fishing boats stuck in the mud of the Sea of Galilee, or
fountains in Corinth are genuine points of connection with the
world that was then...a world that is in fundamental continuity
with the world that is now.
!\!!`S !Y! !!!D!D·
Much of the discussion in New Testament archaeology surrounds
the identification of specific places mentioned in the biblical texts.
Sometimes this can yield important insights. For example, the five-
porticoed pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (John 5) was thought by
some to be a fiction invented by John to symbolize the Pentateuch
or some other five-membered set. But archaeological study has
demonstrated that John spoke about the pool because it was there,
and he said it had five porticoes because it did. Just last year, ex-
cavators in Jerusalem uncovered another pool mentioned in John’s
gospel: the pool of Siloam to which the blind man of John 9 was
sent. We might also mention the synagogue remains at Caper-
naum, which provide some intriguing possibilities for locating one
of the centers of Jesus’ ministry. That the site held a synagogue in
later centuries is secure; but there is also good evidence at earlier
layers suggesting this was, in fact, the very place Jesus taught and
cast out demons (Mark 1). (See Donald D. Binder, “Capernaum.”
We can appreciate such “direct hits,” but we do not always
need such specific links to benefit from archaeological discoveries
of the NT era. In 1986, for example, a fishing boat was discovered
on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The odds are it is
not the same boat used by Jesus and the disciples. But it certainly
gives us a good idea of the type of boat they might have been in
when the storm was stilled or the fish miraculously swarmed into
their net. That should be sufficient to remind us that the biblical
stories may have taken place long ago, and far away, but they
took place in the same world we live in today.
One question that arises from all this, of course, is how we
can determine whether a given site really is something mentioned
in the Bible or not. The question becomes especially crucial
with the proliferation of tourist venues in the Holy Land. Is this
really the Garden Tomb? Was Jesus born in this cave? Did he
give the Sermon on the Mount right on this hill? At times we
need to rely on the insights of professional archaeologists, who
can assess the age of archaeological sites or determine the pres-
ence of early Christian veneration at a particular location. But
common sense should play a major role as well. Some scholars,
for example, feel confident that a site in Capernaum containing
multiple Christian inscriptions and the remains of a church is, in
fact, Peter’s house. While Peter’s ministry carried him far from
`A!D 1!! VO!D !!CAM! !!!S! A!D DV!!1 AMO!G \S `
Sea of Galilee. Photo by Matt Doll
17 wi nt er 05/ 06
Capernaum, it is possible that the house stayed in the family and
could have become a meeting place for Christians over several
generations—assuming his relatives stayed faithful and survived
the wars against Rome in A.D. 66-73 and A.D. 132-35. Since the
house presumably did not move, there is a good chance people
could have found it at later times. If nothing else, it shows us
what a house in Capernaum in the first century was like.
Locating a place like the Mount of Beatitudes, however, would
seem to involve far more difficulties. The biblical texts give us no
indication precisely where the Sermon on the Mount was given,
nor does it indicate that Jesus chose it because of its spectacular
views or aesthetic features. (As a friend of mine who lives in Israel
commented on the popular location of the Mount: “It’s so nice you
want it to be the right place...” But wanting, as he noted, does
not make it so.) Since numerous sites could have served as the
venue for the sermon, the possibility of later misidentification is
multiplied. The intrinsic likelihood of people noting the precise
place among all the hills of Galilee, and then passing along the tra-
dition unbroken through the generations, seems fairly low. All in
all, such identifications can be made only with great reservations.
First century archaeology is a great help in illuminating the
world within which the gospel emerged, and into which
the gospel went. Sometimes the importance of a site or
an artifact can be overlooked, since it does not speak im-
mediately to the texts of the New Testament. Consider the
Hyrcanus Complex. This may sound like a psychological
disorder, but it is, in fact, a spectacular site in Transjor-
dan. The ruins belonged to the descendents of Tobias, the
scoundrel of the book of Nehemiah. This Tobias seems
like a bit player on the pages of Scripture, but the Hyr-
canus complex demonstrates this his family was a major
player in the power politics of Palestine right up until
the time of the Maccabean revolt. The presence of Syr-
ian motifs in the complex (a lion frieze, eagles, gargoyles),
coupled with the Hellenistic architectural style, remind us
that Palestinian Judaism did not live in a hermetically sealed
capsule in the ancient world. The threat of a take-over of
Judea by syncretists like the Tobiads was a clear and present
danger in the centuries leading up to Jesus’ ministry. This,
in turn, helps us make better sense of Herod, who was likewise a
Semitic, but strongly Hellenized, figure (and who left some impres-
sive ruins of his own.)
Other sites, such as Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were
found, are of much more immediate relevance, though they are
not mentioned explicitly in the New Testament. The settlements at
Qumran have occasioned nearly as much discussion as the Scrolls
themselves, with almost as much controversy. Yet most would
agree that a breakaway group of Essenes, dissatisfied with the
status quo in Jerusalem, began occupying the site at Qumran at
least as early as the second half of the 1st Century B.C. The fact
that they would be willing to endure such an inhospitable clime
indicates the fractious nature of early Judaism, and the lengths to
which those looking for the renewal of Israel would go to remain
faithful to their vision. The very location of the site also gives
us an indication of the mindset of such sectarian Jews: it hardly
seems a coincidence that they chose a place near En-gedi, where
Ezekiel prophesied the healing waters of the eschatological river of
God would flow to enliven the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:10). These
were people who took the Bible seriously, even in their selection
of real estate!
If the Hyrcanus Complex and the Qumran site help set the
stage for the New Testament, other places become the stage,
sometimes in quite literal fashion. The parade example of this is
the magnificent theater at Ephesus, which could hold 25,000 people
in Paul’s day. This site factors significantly in the story of Acts
19, where the enraged crowd of Artemis worshippers drag Paul’s
friends, Gaius and Aristarchus, into the theatre, and are only kept
from further violence by the calming words of the town clerk.
Ruins of the Artemis temple are also in view in Ephesus, as are
numerous other items of interest
from the New Testament era.
[For other examples of a similar
nature, see Dr. Aida Spencer’s
article on Corinth.]
We began with a quote from
the first chapter of John’s gospel.
We conclude with a quote from
the first chapter of his first
epistle: “That which was from
the beginning, which we have
heard, which we have seen with
our eyes, which we
looked upon and
have touched with
our hands, concern-
ing the word of
life...” We cannot
touch Jesus now as
John did, though we
will one day. But
through God’s grace
we can see what
Jesus saw, walk
where he walked, and even touch what
he touched, because his world is our
world. Each point of contact reminds
us that we serve the God of history,
the God who created all things and in
the face of the disaster that his world
became, took up flesh and dwelt among us so that it could be put
right. And even as we sift through the ruins to discern traces of
what he has done through his servants through the ages, may we
be reminded to look forward to the city which has foundations,
the New Jerusalem, whose architect and builder is God. ´

Dr. Sean M. McDonough, Associate Professor of New Testa-
ment, taught New Testament at Pacific Theological College in
Suva, Fiji Islands, where he also served as Chair of the Biblical
Studies Department before coming to Gordon-Conwell in 2000.
Dr. McDonough’s teaching and research interests include
creation/cosmology in the Bible and the ancient Near East,
Hellenistic Judaism, Greek philosophy and religion, and the
book of Revelation. His publications include YHWH at Patmos:
Revelation 1:4 in its Hellenistic and Early Jewish Setting, Wis-
senschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2nd se-
ries; “And David Was Old, Advanced in Years,” Vetus Testamentum; “Of Beasts and
Bees: The View of the Natural World in Virgil’s Georgics and John’s Apocalypse,”
New Testament Studies 46.
1 View looking straight on at the bow of
the first century A.D. boat.
2 View of a full–scale model of the
Galilee Boat, located on the grounds of
Kibbutz En Gev — on the eastern shore
of the Sea of Galilee.
photos of boats courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org
18 wi nt er 05/ 06
The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), discovered in the mid-1940’s and nding
their way to publication (and broad scholarly attention) between
then and now, have led to a tremendous growth in our knowledge
and understanding of some of the diverse groups and biblical inter-
pretations that existed within Judaism at the time of the New Testa-
ment. Much of the language and many of the concepts mentioned
in the New Testament have found parallels in those ancient Jewish
One of the manuscripts which only came to publication in 1994
happens to be a ne example of the light which such ancient manu-
scripts can shed on our understanding of the New Testament. The
document is known as 4QMMT and several partial copies of it were
found in the fourth cave. The document mentions “works of the
law” in a couple places and, in fact, it consists primarily of a list of
“some of the works of the law” according to the distinctive views
of the Qumran community, and of an appeal to the readers to adopt
and practice them.
There have been (and there continue to be) great debates over
just what Paul had in mind when he rejected the possibility of being
“justied by works of the law.” Some scholars went so far as to
argue that no Jewish teacher ever suggested one could be justied
by works of the law and that Paul had misrepresented or seriously
misunderstood Jewish teaching. Scholars had sifted through Rabbinic
literature looking for the Hebrew or Aramaic equivalent to “works
of the law” and had found nothing. There had been a few other
phrases in the DSS that seemed to refer to works of the law, but
they were not clear and certainly did not clarify what the expression
might mean. Now, with the publication of 4QMMT we had the rst
and only clear reference to “works of the law” in the New Testament
environment outside of the letters of the apostle Paul.
According to 4QMMT, the expression “works of the law” seems
to refer to the standards established for the community by the
interpretation and application of the laws by its leaders. That is,
they refer to what the authorities of the Jewish community had estab-
lished as the denitive standards of the Mosaic law according to their
interpretation of Scripture.
4QMMT does not simply give a list of some of the works of the
law, however, it also tells its readers that they will be justied if they
accept and practice the works as outlined in the document. The nal
paragraph of the document reads as follows:
“We have sent ·ou some of the uorhs of the lau uhtch ue have
JtscerneJ utll be for ·our gooJ anJ for the gooJ of ·our [eo[le. Ior
ue recogntze that ·ou have utsJom anJ hnouleJge of the lau. Con-
stJer all these thtngs anJ ash !GoJ¡ to strengthen ·our utll anJ hee[
·ou aua· from evtl thoughts anJ from Beltal´s counsel. Then ·ou utll
rejotce at the enJ of ttme uhen ·ou utll fnJ some of our juJgments
to be correct. AnJ tt utll be creJtteJ to ·ou as rtghteousness stnce ·ou
utll have Jone uhat ts rtghteous anJ gooJ tn hts e·es. for ·our oun
gooJ anJ for the gooJ of Israel.¨
The nal sentence reects the language of justica-
tion and clearly indicates the readers’ justication
may well depend upon their willingness to adopt and
practice the interpretation of the law proposed within
this document. Earlier in the same document the
forgiveness of sins is tied to performing deeds which
reect respect for the law of Moses.
No one has suggested that Paul ever read 4QMMT, but it is now
clear that justication by works of the law was armed by at least
some Jews, possibly many or most. Paul did not misrepresent or
misunderstand Jewish teaching. Paul’s polemic and teaching against
the view that justication could be achieved through works of the
law makes very good sense as a response to a group whose thinking
on “works of the law” and justication was similar to that which we
nd in 4QMMT. In this and many other ways the Dead Sea Scrolls
help us gain a better understanding of the context and meaning of
New Testament texts. ´
Justification by Works of the Law in the
Dr. Roy E. Ciampa, Associate Professor of New Testament,
taught and ministered in Portugal before coming to Gordon-
Conwell in 2001. He continues to collaborate with the
Portuguese Bible Society in its translation projects. He and his
family attend Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, where he also
enjoys an active teaching ministry. Special interests include
the exegesis and theology of Paul’s epistles and the use of
the Old Testament in the New. His publications include The
Presence and Function of Scripture in Galatians 1 and 2, and
articles in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, The Dictionary of New Testa-
ment Background and in Portuguese periodicals.
Qumran caves. Photo courtesy of Dr. Gary D. Pratico
Roy E. Ciampa, Ph.D.
19 wi nt er 05/ 06
Visiting the archaeological remains of a New
Testament city may often give insight into the
historical context of a New Testament letter
written to that city. Let’s take, for example,
ancient Corinth in Greece. How might the ar-
chaeological excavations enlighten Paul’s second
letter to the Corinthians?
This beautiful city, not far from the blue
Aegean Sea, appears to have been prosperous,
and indeed the church should have had “plenty”
to share (8:14). Alongside the road to Lechaios,
one of Corinth’s seaports, are small shops where
probably Paul, Prisca and Aquila had their tent-
making shop. It is not far from an inscription
“the synagogue of the Hebrews.” Corinth was
an urban city where most people lived in closely
packed shops and homes. Paul, Prisca and
Aquila may have often heard many shopkeepers
peddling their products for prot, but Paul and
Timothy did not “peddle the word of God for
prot” (2:17).
In the center of the open marketplace, or
agora, in Corinth is a very large square plat-
form (about eight feet high). This was called the
BEMA. The Roman proconsul Lucius Junius
Gallio (Seneca’s brother) walked up these steps
to judge the complaints against Paul in Acts
18:12-17. Paul uses the BEMA as imagery for
Christ’s judgment of the world: “For we must
all appear before the judgment seat (BEMA) of
Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10; see also Rom. 14:10). No
one will be able to escape seeing Christ as judge.
The city of Corinth had many monuments to
idols, such as Apollo, Hermes, Poseidon, Aph-
rodite, Tyche. These idols would certainly have
been in the Corinthians’ minds when Paul asked
them rhetorically: “What agreement is there
between the temple of God and idols?” (6:16).
The answer, of course, is none, because unlike
the pagan monument, God’s sanctuary was alive
and the only living God was present (6:16).
Looming high over the city is a massive
rock mountain rising up to the sky over a 1/3
mile (1887 feet). It was part of a wall six miles
around the inner city. It was called the “Acro-
corinth” or “acropolis” (“the high part of the
city”). The top was reached by a winding road
that went by many pagan sanctuaries (for the
gods Demeter, Isis, Serapis and nally, Aphro-
dite). The ancients would use such a mountain
as a defensive fortress when attacked. Paul
uses the imagery of knocking down massive
“strongholds” (OCHUROMA, 10:4) to describe
the “arguments” and “heights” (HUPSOMA)
that set themselves up against the “knowledge
of God” (10:5). Instead of physically attack-
ing fortresses of defense, the Christian captures
“thoughts,” (10:5). Instead of oppressive leaders
being able to hide worldly arguments in such
defensive mountains, with God’s power they are
taken “captive.” God’s presence is that powerful!
About a mile
west of Corinth
was the potter’s
quarter. Sometimes
ancient people
would hide their
treasures in such
a simple clay
container, much
as we today might
hide money in an
old shoe box. As
believers we have
a treasure: “the
knowledge of the
glory of God in
the face of Christ”
(4:6). But we, too,
hide it in “jars of
clay,” mortal lives
of diculties arising from advancing Christ’s
reign (4:7-11). These breakable “clay contain-
ers” witness to a power outside any human
ability because such “power is from God and
not from us” (4:7). ´
How Ar chaeol ogy Hel ps
Bi bl e I nt er pr et at i on
Aida Besançon Spencer, Ph.D.
1 Site of the BEMA overlooking
Aegean Sea.
2 View looking southwest at the
seating and stage area of the
semi–circular theater at Corinth.
3 View looking north at the
southern side of the Acro-
4 View of the wall of the
5 View looking northeast at the
Temple of Apollo
6 View looking northwest
from/at the Acrocorinth
photos courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org
Dr. Aída Besançon Spencer is Professor
of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary. She has written
many books, including, Beyond the Curse:
Women Called to Ministry (Hendrickson,
1985), 2 Corinthians: The People’s Bible
Commentary (Bible Reading Fellowship,
2001), and Paul’s Literary Style (Univer-
sity Press of America, 1998), and numerous articles and
book reviews.
20 wi nt er 05/ 06
Colin R. Nicholl, Ph.D.
1 View looking north at the area where the Temple of Artemis was lo-
cated. In its day, the Temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders
of the ancient world. At its height it had 127 columns.
2 Close-up view of one of the stones of the siphon. Note how the
interior has been clogged due to calcification. This eventually led to a
reduced flow of water to Laodicea.
3 Altar of Zeus from the east looking west. The altar is rectangular
in shape measuring 118 x 112 ft. [36 x 34 m]. The foundation
stones are clearly visible. In the letter to the church at Pergamum it
is written (Rev 2:13), “I know where you live—where Satan has
his throne. Yet you remain faithful to my name.” Some commentators
believe that the “throne of Satan” refers to this altar of Zeus.
4 View of the “interior” of the “water tower” in Laodicea. Note on
the right side the individual blocks of stone from which it was
constructed. The clay pipes are clearly visible as is the calcification
that occurred over time.

a n d t h e l e t t e r s t o t h e s e v e n c h u r c h e s o f a s i a
Archaeology has played an important role in
the exegesis of Revelation, particularly the let-
ters to the seven churches in chapters 2-3.
Sir William Ramsey’s elucidation of these
letters by drawing from his extensive knowledge
of the archaeology of western Turkey (The
Letters to the Seven Churches) was famously
reworked by Colin Hemer in his Letters to the
Seven Churches of Asta tn thetr Local Setttng.
Both contended that numerous elements of the
seven letters were illuminated by local phenom-
ena as gleaned from numismatics, inscriptions,
topography, ancient literary works and archaeo-
logical excavations.
Although many today have significant
qualms about the lack of methodological cau-
tion exercised by Ramsey and Hemer, judging
most of their proposed local allusions as tenu-
ous, the majority of scholars do nevertheless
accept that the letters to the seven churches
contain some local allusions.
By far the most widely embraced local allu-
sions are found in the letter to the Laodicean
church in Rev. 3:14-22. Laodicea was a wealthy
and self-sufficient city, which, according to
Tacitus (Ann. 14.27.1), recovered from a major
earthquake in A.D. 60 by itself, refusing to
accept any financial aid from Rome. It may be
this that is being alluded to in 3:17: “you say, ‘I
am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,’
not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable,
poor, blind and naked.”
Then in 3:18, the Laodicean Christians are
encouraged to buy from Jesus “white gar-
ments,” apparently in contrast to the soft,
glossy, raven-black sheep’s wool that was so
critical for Laodicea’s booming textile indus-
try and local economy. In the same verse, the
Laodicean Christians are counseled to purchase
from Jesus “eye salve.” This may well allude
to a treatment for ophthalmia produced by
the city’s medical school, known as “Phrygian
powder,” which consisted of zinc, alum, copper
and herbs.
In the light of such plausible local allusions,
the claim of Rudwick and Green that archaeo-
logical evidence and the writings of Strabo
point to another reference to the local situation
in Laodicea in Rev. 3:15-16 has been received
with some enthusiasm. 3:15-16 reads, “I know
your works: you are neither cold nor hot; I
wish that you were cold or hot! So, because
you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I
will spew you out of my mouth.”
Rudwick and Green suggested that Jesus’
point was not the spiritual temperature of the
Laodiceans, but their spiritual uselessness. Jesus
was therefore alluding to the water supply of
Laodicea in contrast to that of its neighboring
cities in the Lycus Valley—Colosse to the south-
21 wi nt er 05/ 06
east and Hierapolis to the north. While Colosse’s water was
refreshingly cold and pure, and Hierapolis’s water had a
reputation for being soothingly hot and medicinal, Laodicea
lacked any natural water source and was forced to bring in
water through stone pipes from hot springs in Denizli about
five miles away. Sections of the impressive double aqueduct
system remain today, and at points they are blocked with
calcareous deposits (see photo 2), demonstrating that they used
to carry water from hot, mineral-laden springs. By the time the
waters reached Laodicea, they were memorably lukewarm and
emetic (cf. Strabo).
Jesus’ point then, according to Rudwick and Green, is that
the Laodicean Christians were distressingly like their water
supply: they were not a source of healing or of refreshment,
but were useless and only made Jesus nauseous. Most com-
mentators regard this as a likely hypothesis.
With respect to Rev. 2:7’s reference to the “tree of life” in
the paradise of God, Ramsey and Hemer proposed that John
had in mind the sacred enclosure of the famous Ephesian
Temple of Artemis, where criminals could secure asylum. They
argued this on the grounds of the evidence of Ephesian coins
associating Artemis with a tree and archaeological excavations
revealing a tree shrine dedicated to Artemis. However, the ma-
jority of scholars judge that the more obvious Edenic allusion
probably explains the phrase adequately.
Another proposed local allusion on the basis of archaeologi-
cal finds is the identification of “Satan’s throne” in Rev. 2:12-
13 as the 112 by 118 foot marble-covered, columned, Great
Altar of Zeus discovered in 1878 atop the Pergamum acropolis.
However, in view of the wider context of Revelation, it seems
more plausible that the reference there is to the focal point of
the Imperial Cult, the first Asian provincial temple built for
worship of the Emperor, the Temple of Augustus.
On that note, archaeology has played a key role in opening
up our understanding of the formal worship of the Emperor
in the Roman province of Asia. Based partly on archaeological
excavations, scholars such as S.R.F. Price and Steven Friesen
have shed new light on the prevalence, organization and
Jesus’ point then, according to Rudwick and Green, is that the Laodicean Christians
were distressingly like their water supply: they were not a source of healing
or of refreshment, but were useless and only made Jesus nauseous.
dynamics of the Imperial Cult in Asia in the last half of the
first century, when Revelation was written. Since participation
in the rituals of the imperial cult was perceived to be a basic
display of loyalty to Rome and was expected of all citizens,
it seems probable that essential to the difficulties faced by the
Asian Christians, particularly those in Ephesus, Smyrna and
Pergamum, was their unwillingness to participate in the rituals
of the astonishingly popular Imperial Cult.
Students of the New Testament therefore can be grateful
for the contribution of archaeology to the understanding of the
Apocalypse. ´
For further information:
Friesen, Steven J. Im[ertal Cults anJ the A[ocal·[se of ]ohn: ReaJtng Revelatton tn
the Rutns. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Hemer, Colin J. The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asta tn thetr Local Setttng.
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1986.
Price, S.R.F. Rttuals anJ Pouer: The Roman Im[ertal Cult tn Asta Mtnor.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Ramsey, William M. The Letters to the Seven Churches. London: Hodder &
Stoughton, 1904.
Rudwick, M.J.S. and Green, E.M.B. “The Laodicean Lukewarmness.” Ex[osttor·
Ttmes 69 (1957-58): 176-78.
Yamauchi, Edwin M. The Archaeolog· of Neu Testament Ctttes tn Western Astan
Mtnor. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980.
Colin R. Nicholl, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of New Testament,
was born and brought up in Northern Ireland. Dr. Nicholl
has studied both in the United States and Great Britain and
has served as an assistant lecturer, supervisor, and examiner
with the Divinity Faculty at Cambridge. He is the author of
the recently-released From Hope to Despair in Thessalonica:
Situating 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Cambridge University Press,
2004), and has published in the Journal of Theological Studies
and various other British publications. His current research
interests include mission in the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount, Mark’s
gospel, Pauline epistles and theology, the book of Revelation, and eschatology. Dr.
Nicholl has extensive ministry and preaching experience spanning three continents.
1 2 3 4
photos courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org; Photo captions by Dr. Carl Rasmussen
22 wi nt er 05/ 06
t op f i f t een f i nds
1Ketef Hinnom Amulets
Pride of place no doubt belongs to the
oldest Old Testament (#1) and oldest New
Testament (#2) texts known to us at this
time. The antiquity of the Old Testament
text is witnessed by two silver amulets
discovered underneath a rocky escarpment
on which St. Andrews Church of Scotland
stands, across the Hinnom Valley from
the western walls of the old city of Jerusa-
lem. They are known as the Ketef Htnnom
Amulets, found in Cave 25 in 1979 by
Gabriel Barkay.
These 7th to 6th Century B.C. silver
plaques, rolled up to form two amu-
lets (the larger measuring 4 inches by 1
inch, and the smaller, 1.5 by .5 inches),
are inscribed with words from Numbers
6:24-26 on one, and Deuteronomy 7:9 on
the other. Both match the Hebrew words
found in the Pentateuch and have extraor-
dinary correspondence to the wording and
spelling of these Scriptures, which chal-
It is difficult to reduce several hundred rather major archaeological finds to a mere 15 that top the list. In-
deed, Michael D. Coogan attempted to list the “10 Great Finds” in the 20th anniversary issue of the mag-
azine Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR, vol. 21.3, May-June 1995, pp 36-47). Some of my top picks will
coincide with his, but all 15 will be listed here because of the way each has affected the interpretation of
Scripture. With some attention to their importance, I will list the 15 in order of greatest significance.
shore of the Dead Sea, these 1100 ancient
documents and 100,000 fragments, plus
several intact full scrolls, represent portions
or the entire text of every Old Testament
book in Hebrew except the book of Esther.
Somewhere around 230 of the total manu-
scripts are copies of Old Testament books.
Prior to their discovery, the oldest surviv-
ing manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible came
from A.D. 920. Some copies of the Greek
Septuagint translation of the Old Testa-
ment dated back to the 3rd Century B.C.,
but up to that point none of the Hebrew
manuscripts went back that far.
Now we had Hebrew Scriptures that
could be dated in the 1st and even the 2nd
Century B.C. Most amazingly, these Dead
Sea Scrolls showed that our Bible had been
preserved with dramatic accuracy for what
was by now over two millennia. One copy
of Isaiah, our best example, showed that
after a gap of 1000 years in textual copy-
ing tradition, for what stretches to over
100 pages in our English Bibles, only three
words in the whole book of Isaiah showed
any difference—and those differences were
variations in spelling comparable to the
difference in English and American spell-
ings of “honour” versus “honor.”
lenges those who give a Post-Exilic date for
the Pentateuch to explain how two texts
from the Law of Moses appeared so much
earlier than the scholarly critical views
have set for them!
2 John Rylands Papyrus
In a similar way, the John R·lanJs Pa[·-
rus, found by Grenfeld in Fayum, Egypt, in
1920, yielded the oldest known fragment of
a New Testament manuscript. It was dated
by papyrologists to 125 A.D. But since
it was in circulation that far south into
Egypt, this small scrap of papyrus with the
verses from John’s gospel (John 18:31-33;
37-38), successfully put an end to the then-
popular attempt to late-date John’s gospel
away from the disciple John and put it
instead at the end of the 2nd Century A.D.
No longer was such a move possible in
light of the archaeological evidence.
3Dead Sea Scrolls
Probably the most sensational manuscript
discovery of our times is the DeaJ Sea
Scrolls. Found in 1948 in caves near the
ruins of Qumran, a 1st Century B.C. Es-
sene community located near the northwest
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ph.D.
2 John Rylands Papyrus
The John Rylands Library,
University of Manchester,
Manchester, UK.
3 Temple Scroll from Qumran (on the cover)
Z. Radovan www.BibleLandPictures.com
23 wi nt er 05/ 06
4Beni Hasan Painting
In a village called Beni Hasan, some 150
miles south of Cairo, on the east bank of
the Nile River, an 8 foot long by 1
high painting was found in an early 19th
Century B.C. cave. Known as the Bent
Hasan Patnttng, it depicts “Asiatics” (but
more precisely, eight men, four women
and three children, led by two Egyptian
officials) entering Egypt to sell eye paint.
The men wear multicolored long kilts that
cover their chests and one shoulder, and
have sandals on their feet. Each man has
a full head of hair, a short beard, but no
Likewise, the women have multicolored
garments, but these garments are much
longer and have no fringes on the bottom.
The women also wear a sort of slipper sock
for footwear and a small headband on top
of their heads
of long hair.
Two donkeys,
by an ibex and
a gazelle, trans-
port what are
perhaps bellows
on their backs.
The men are
equipped with
what appear to
be water-skins,
a musical instru-
ment (lyre?), and
weaponry of
spears and bows
and arrows. The
kilts of many col-
ors remind us of
Joseph’s coat
(Gen 37:3; cf 2
Sam 13:18), and
provide a picture
as to what the Patriarchal culture and its
economic and political contacts with Egypt may
have looked like. It is a fascinating picture of life
about the time of the Patriarchs.
5Basalt Stelae from Dan
The Basalt Stelae from Dan, found in
1993 and 1994 with the words “house of
David,” gave us the first external evidence
to the Bible of the reality of King David’s
existence. Previous to this, it had been
fashionable to dismiss the David narratives
in the Bible as so much priestly propagan-
da that had tried to give Israel a respect-
able past history as they sat in the Baby-
lonian captivity. Avraham Biran, of the
Hebrew Union College, excavating a site in
northern Israel known as Dan, found in an
exposed wall of stones one basalt fragment
about 12 inches high. In the same wall a
year later, two other smaller pieces were
found to be part of the original inscription.
When the Aramaic words were translated
from the paleo-Hebrew script, here was the
first extra-biblical reference to King David.
This announcement caused scholars to
take another look at a basalt stone known
as the Mesha Stele, from the Moabite King
Mesha, that had been found a century earli-
er. This text complained about “Omri, King
of Israel,” who had oppressed the kingdom
of Moab, a land east of the Dead Sea
and Jordan River (1 Kings
16:21-27). In a partially
broken line of the Me-
sha Inscription, a French
scholar named Andre LeMaire supplied two
missing letters of the original five Hebrew
letters so as to be able to now read the
“House of David.” Thus, the stele told how
Mesha threw off the yolk that the house of
David had imposed on Moab years previ-
ously (LeMaire, “The House of David...”
BAR, 1994, pp. 30-37). Now we had two
external references to a David that some
claimed never existed.
6Gilgamesh Epic
Tablet 11 of the 12-tablet story called
the Gtlgamesh E[tc is another flood story
named after the principal character, King
Gilgamesh, who was alleged to have ruled
the Babylonian city of Uruk around 2600
B.C. This epic, written in Semitic wedge-
shaped letters known as cuneiform Akka-
dian, has many striking similarities to the
biblical story of Noah in Genesis 6-9, as
well as just as many substantial differences.
While Austen Henry Layard uncovered
literally tens of thousands of tablets in
Nineveh, which he shipped back to Eng-
land up to 1851, it was George Smith, an
assistant to the British Museum’s Assyrian
department, who in 1872 discovered tablet 11
related to a flood story. Since the tablet was
broken, Smith returned to Nineveh and within
five days, on May 14, 1873, found another
tablet with the missing lines.
In the Akkadian epic, Gilgamesh is told
about the flood by a man named Utnapishtim.
He had safely passed through a flood because
a creator god named Ea had warned him
that a flood was coming and he was to build
a boat (as was the biblical Noah, Gen 6:2,
13-17). The storm that wiped out the rest of
mankind ended on the seventh day and all
emerged from the boat on the twelfth day
(contrary to Gen 7:24). Utnapishtim’s boat
rested on Mount Nisirin Kurdistan (rather
than the Biblical Mt. Ararat in Turkey), as
Utnapishtim sent out a dove, a swallow and
finally, a raven (cf. Gen 8:3-11). When the
raven failed to return, all left the Babylonian
boat and offered a sacrifice to the gods (cf.
Gen 8:12-22). Both accounts seem to reflect
a similar event, but the Gilgamesh Epic has
numerous legendary additions with a tone that
is vastly different from the biblical account.
4 Beni Hasan Painting
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
6 Gilgamesh Epic
Dr. James C. Martin, Preserving Bible Times
24 wi nt er 05/ 06
7Pool of Gibeon
The site of the Pool of Gtbeon, mentioned
in 2 Samuel 2:13 and Jeremiah 41:12, was
first identified by Edward Robinson in 1833
at the Palestinian village of el-Jib. James B.
Pritchard excavated here in 1956-1960 and
confirmed this identification with 31 jar
handles with the Hebrew word for Gibeon
on them. Apparently, Gibeon was a pro-
ducer and exporter of wines, which required
special provisions of water, since the summer
months lacked any rainfall. Pritchard found
two separate water systems: (1) a pool or
reservoir measuring 37 feet in diameter, and
(2) a tunnel that sloped down from inside
the city walls to a water chamber just out-
side the city at the base of the tell.
The Gibeon Pool was cut through lime-
stone bedrock to a depth of 82 feet to the
water level, with a staircase and railing cut
into the limestone winding down 37 feet to a
level floor about halfway down. From there
the stairs drop straight down another 45 feet
to the water table. It was around this pool
that 12 of King David’s men, under com-
mander Joab, met 12 of King Saul’s men,
under commander Abner, in a wrestling
contest in which all 24 died as they grabbed
each other by the hair and plunged a sword
into one another.
8The Seal of Baruch
The Seal of Baruch was one of the 250 in-
scribed bullae, or small clay baked buttons,
that turned up in 1975 through an Arab East
Jerusalem antiquities dealer. While they must
have come from illegal digging in Jerusalem,
they are important because they were origi-
nally meant to seal documents or containers
to prevent tampering. A lump of soft clay,
attached to a sealing string, was stamped
with a seal and left to harden. Most of the
documents and containers, to which many of
these were attached, were destroyed in a fire,
but the bullae survived and were preserved
by the fire all the more. Among them was a
seal containing this name, “Berekhayahu [Ba-
ruch] son of Neriyahu [Neriah] the scribe”
(Jer 36: 4, 8, 14; 45:1). The suffix on both
names, yahu, is a shortened form of Yahweh
or Jehovah. This Baruch was none other
than the confidant and personal scribe of the
Old Testament prophet Jeremiah who took
dictation from the prophet and had to hide
with Jeremiah as King Jehoiakim sought to
arrest both of them (Jer 36:26).
Another bulla in this same lot contained
the name of Ishmael, who assassinated
Gedaliah (Jer 40: 7), the governor appointed
by the Babylonians after Jerusalem fell
in 587 B.C. An additional 51 bullae were
found on the floor of the House of Bullae.
Among the names recorded there was a
bulla of “Gemaryahu [Gemariah] the son of
Shaphan,” a scribe who served in the court
of King Jehoiakim and who advised the king
not to burn the scroll Jeremiah had written
(Jer 36:10-12, 25-26). Almost 400 of these
bullae have been found belonging to the
period of the 8th to the 6th Century B.C.
9King Sargon II of Assyria
One of the persons named in the Scriptures,
but whose existence was doubted until mod-
ern Biblical Archaeology “discovered” him,
is Ktng Sargon II of Ass·rta. Isaiah 20:1 was
sure he was the King of Assyria, but he was
not among those found in the excavations of
the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. However, in
1843, Paul Emile Botta discovered that Sargon
had gone to Dur-Sharrukin (modern Khors-
abad), a virgin site some 12 miles northeast
of Nineveh, where he began construction in
717 B.C. Stretching one mile on each side,
this construction site was never completed or
occupied before Sargon died, and was aban-
doned by his successors. A massive 25 ton
bull-man-god was one of several that guarded
the entrance to the throne room at Khorsabad.
10Black Obelisk of Shal-
maneser III
The Blach Obeltsh of Shal-
maneser III. standing 6 feet
6 inches high, was found
at the Northwest palace at
Nimrud commemorating
Shalmaneser’s campaigns
during his reign. On the
second panel from the top,
King Jehu of Israel (2 Kings
10:34) can be seen kneeling
before Shalmaneser (known
from elsewhere to have
taken place in the year of
841 B.C.). This monument
is of enormous histori-
cal value, for it is the only
secular piece of evidence
where a historical personage
of Scripture is depicted. The
inscription below the depic-
tion reads: “the tribute of Jehu (Ia-w-a), son
of Omri (Hu-um-ri); I received from him
silver, gold, a golden saplu-bowl, a golden
vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers,
golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, [and]
wooden puruhtu.”
11 Caiaphas Ossuary
The High Priest Caiaphas, who served as
the leader of the Sanhedrin from A.D. 18-
36, is known as the one who gave cynically
expedient advice that it was better for one
man (i.e., Jesus) to die than for the whole
nation to suffer (John 11: 49-53). Indeed, it
was he who later presided over the late-night
trial of Jesus (John 18:14). In what some
considered to be the courtyard of Caiaphas’
house, where Peter waited for news about
Jesus (Matt 26:69-75), the Cata[has Ossuar·,
or bone chest, was found by accident in 1990
south of the Temple Mount as workers were
building a water park in Jerusalem’s Peace
Inscribed on the ornately decorated bone
chest or ossuary was the inscription found
in two places, “Qafa” and “Yehosef bar
Qayafa,” i.e., “Caiaphas,” and “Joseph,
9 Winged Bull with Human Head, Palace of Sargon II
Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of
10 Black Obelisk of
Shalmaneser III
Dr. James C. Martin,
Preserving Bible Times
7 Pool of Gibeon
Dr. James C. Martin, Preserving Bible Times
25 wi nt er 05/ 06
son of Caiaphas.” The historian Josephus
gives his full name as “Joseph, who is called
Caiaphas of the high priesthood.” Inside the
ossuary were the bones of six people, includ-
ing one 60-year-old man, probably Caiaphas.
This was a remarkable discovery.
12Pontius Pilate Inscription
The Ponttus Ptlate Inscrt[tton is a first
century monument that was re-used in a
fourth-century remodeling project. But it
would seem that it was written to com-
memorate Pilate’s dedication of a temple to
worship Tiberias Caesar during Pilate’s term
of rule in Judea. Pontius Pilate ruled over
Judea from A.D. 26-36. It was during this
time that he met with Jesus of Nazareth in
that famous encounter where Pilate asked,
“What is truth?” (John 18:36-37). The Latin
inscription of four lines gave Pilate the title
of “Pontius Pilate,
Prefect of Judea,” a
title reminiscent of
the one given to him
in Luke 3:1, “Pontius
Pilate, Governor of
Judea.” Once again, here was external evi-
dence from archaeology showing that the
gospel record was written during the time in
which the events took place, for titles such
as these tend to be forgotten in later times.
13Pool of Siloam
The pool where Jesus healed the blind man
(John 9:1-41), was the Pool of Stloam. In the
Byzantine period, Empress Eudocia (c. 400-460
A.D.) built a church (over which now sits a
mosque), and a pool where the water emerges
from Hezekiah’s tunnel. Hezekiah, king of
Judah during the time of an expected Assyrian
siege, had long ago constructed a 1750 foot long
tunnel from the Gihon Spring, where two
teams of workers coming from opposite ends of
the tunnel somehow mysteriously met deep un-
derground in the middle—a feat commemorated
by a plaque called the Siloam Inscription (now
housed in the Istanbul Museum). The water
flowed from Hezekiah’s tunnel to the Pool of
Siloam (Isa 8:6; Neh 3:15 Shiloah = Siloam).
In June of 2004, however, it became clear
that the Byzantine site of the fourth Chris-
tian century was not the site of the Pool of
Siloam of Jesus’ day. As workers were called
to repair a sewer pipe in Jerusalem, archaeolo-
gists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron noticed a
segment of descending
stairways of five steps
each, not far from the
end of Hezekiah’s tun-
nel, measuring 225 feet
on one side. Using a
metal detector, the ar-
chaeologists discovered
four coins in the plaster
used in the first phase
of the pool dated to the
late Hasmonean period
or early Herodian times
(103-37 B.C.). In the
second phase, a dozen
coins dating to the
period of the first Jew-
ish Revolt, which lasted from 66-70 A.D., were
found with the years 2, 3, and 4 of the revolt
on them. There is little doubt that this was the
Pool of Siloam where Jesus sent the blind man
to wash so that he could be healed (John 9:1-
12; BAR, 2005, 31.5, pp. 16-23).
14Beersheba Horned Altar
At the southern limits of ancient Israel (“from
Dan to Beersheba”) was found at Beersheba
a number of large, carefully dressed stones
that had been re-used in a wall dating to the
late 8th Century B.C. The Beersheba HorneJ
Altar, when reconstructed, measured 63 inches
high, 63 inches long and 63 inches wide, though
more stones found later suggest it may have
been closer to 9 feet. The tapered projections
or “horns” (as in Exodus 29: 2 or 1 Kings 1:51;
2:28) fit the biblical description of an altar, but
the hewn stones were not according to biblical
instructions (Exodus 20:25). Also, the altar had
a serpent inscribed on one of its stones and
sacrifices had been offered on it, for its top
stones were blackened. While there has been a
huge controversy over the original location of
the altar, all agree it gives us a good picture of
an illegitimate place of sacrifice. In fact, Amos
5:5; 8:14 appear to say that Beersheba was a
seat of pagan worship, where a schismatic sanc-
tuary may have at one time stood.
15Cyrus Cylinder
For our final selection of this large number of
finds reflecting on the reliability of the Bible’s
witness to its historical accuracy, we have chosen
the C·rus C·ltnJer. This cylindrical shaped
record of the Persian king’s edicts matches quite
well with what we find in the books of Ezra
(1:2-4) and 2 Chronicles (36:22-23). King Cyrus
credits his god Marduk with selecting him and
giving him the task of ruling the world. The
prophet Isaiah would see it in slightly different
theological terms, for in Isaiah 45:1 God called
Cyrus by name long before he was born and
destined him to “perform all [God’s] desire” (Isa
44:28). But even more significantly, the cylinder
announces the Persian policy of Cyrus toward
captive peoples, such as the exiled Israelites. All
those exiled peoples would be allowed to return
to their homelands where permanent sanctuaries
would be established for them. That also accords
with the Isaianic prophecy in Isaiah 44:24-28.
There is much more to tell, of course, but
the preceding 15 samples should have helped
make the case that Biblical Archaeology is alive
and well. It has served wonderfully well as an
interpretive tool by setting the scene, customs,
culture and details of the times in which each
find was located. However, an unexpected sur-
prise has been how unwittingly it has also served
apologetically in defense of the Scriptures, even
if that had not been its motivating force or its
primary objective. In fact, the results continue to
roll in right up to the present moment, and some
may have occurred while we were going to press
with this article.
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., is President and Colman
M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testa-
ment, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An
internationally recognized Old Testament scholar,
Dr. Kaiser continues his classroom teaching and is
a popular Bible preacher and teacher at churches
and conferences throughout the U.S. and abroad.
He has authored over 30 books, among them,
Revive Us Again: Biblical Insights for Encourag-
ing Spiritual Renewal, Toward An Old Testament
Theology and A History of Israel.
14 Beersheba Horned Altar
Z. Radovan www.BibleLandPictures.com
12 Pilate Inscription
Gary D. Pratico
26 wi nt er 05/ 06
S F B E J O H ! U I F ! C J C M F ! G S P N ! B!
C Z ! S F N F N C F S J O H ! U I F!








What did Jesus mean when he said that Gentile rulers love to be called “benefactors” (Luke
22:25)? What was going on when the women of Judah were “Weeping for Tammuz” (Ezek
8:14)? What bearing might the Roman dining room called the triclinium have on how the
apostles arranged themselves at the last supper (John 13)? All of these questions imply some-
thing that should be self-evident: the Bible is an ancient book, was written in an ancient con-
text, and alludes to customs, places, stories and events which are quite alien to us who live in
North America in the 21st century. It is obvious—or at least it ought to be—that our under-
standing of the Bible will be greatly enhanced if we are aware of the cultural background, the
beliefs, the concerns and the histories of the peoples we encounter in the pages of the Bible.
27 wi nt er 05/ 06
Sadly, many Christians read the Bible as though the histori-
cal, cultural and archaeological background of the Bible were
irrelevant. This is true not only of lay people but of pastors
and scholars as well. Astonishingly, one can today read a book
of Old Testament theology or even a history of Israel and find
that its author gave virtually no attention either to the texts of
the ancient Near East or to the archaeology of Israel.
Such an attitude arises from a misapplication of the idea
of the perspicuity of Scripture (the doctrine that the Bible
is fundamentally clear rather than obscure). Although this
concept is essentially valid, it is not an excuse for being lazy
in our studies, nor does it guarantee that we will understand
the background and meaning of every text. If we do not know
who Tammuz is, then our understanding of Ezek 8:14 will
be a guess at best and may turn out to be altogether wrong.
Similarly, our perception of what is going on in Esther is made
obscure by a cloud of ignorance if we do not know a few basic
facts about the Persian Empire.
Of course, it is not helpful simply to chide people for their
lack of awareness of biblical backgrounds. Lay Christian read-
ers have had very few resources available to them that lay out
in a succinct way basic facts and issues in the archaeology, his-
tory, culture and setting of the Bible. It is for this reason that
we have produced and now offer to readers The Archaeologtcal
StuJ· Btble. There are, of course, dozens of annotated study
Bibles available to readers today. This one, however, is genu-
inely different. It does not focus on theological interpretation,
prophecy or devotional life. Rather, it draws the reader into
the world of the Bible itself. Who were the Philistines? What
was agricultural life in ancient Israel like? How was pottery
significant for ancient peoples and for modern archaeologists?
What is the story of Beersheba, a place closely associated with
Through short articles, notes, and photographs, The Ar-
chaeologtcal StuJ· Btble seeks to open the world of the Bible
to readers. Some of the articles deal with ancient places and
peoples, such as the Philistines. Others deal with ancient texts
that help us to understand the background of biblical passages.
Still others deal with matters pertaining to the reliability of the
Bible. Thus, in one place the reader will find a citation from
a Latin text that has bearing on New Testament issues. In an-
other place a reader will encounter a parallel to the Bible from
Hittite literature, with a discussion of how the Bible and the
Hittite text are similar and how they differ. In Exodus, readers
are given an extended discussion on the debate over the route
of the exodus and the location of the Dead Sea.

We have all seen medieval pictures of biblical scenes in which
the buildings look like European castles and the characters are
all wearing the clothes of the 13th Century A.D. It is easy to
smile at these obviously anachronistic portrayals of biblical
scenes. We, however, are doomed to make the same errors if
we do not take a little time to learn about the peoples, places,
cultures and events of the ancient world. Our hope is that The
Archaeologtcal StuJ· Btble will enable readers to do just this. ´
Dr. Duane A. Garrett, General Editor of the new study Bible is
the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation
at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and formerly
served as Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theo-
logical Seminary. He has also taught at Bethel Theological
Seminary, Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, Mid-America
Baptist Theological Seminary, Houston Baptist University, Ko-
rea Baptist Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
In Korea he served with the Korean Baptist Mission under the
auspices of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist
Convention, and has also been a pastor in Canada.
A prolific author, Dr. Garrett has written several books and many journal articles
in the area of Old Testament studies. They include Authority and Interpretation
(Baker); Angels and the New Spirituality (Broadman); Hosea and Joel, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs (Broadman, New American Commentary Series)
and Rethinking Genesis (Baker).

28 wi nt er 05/ 06
The Archaeological Study Bible
by Gordon-Conwell and Zondervan
Students of the Bible can take an eye-
opening and exceptionally informative
walk through the world of the Scriptures
in the soon-to-be released Archaeologtcal
StuJ· Btble.
Published through a partnership
of Zondervan and Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary, this first full-color
study Bible will introduce readers to the
archaeological, historical and cultural
contexts that framed the Bible’s narra-
tives and the lives of its people.
The new Bible uses the most-read
NIV translation and contains more than
500 insightful and accessible articles
from over 100 scholars. It also includes:
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page study notes highlighting
historical, archaeological and
cultural topics
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feature indexes, color maps and
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NIV text, photographs, maps, and
charts included in the Bible.
Serving as Senior Editor for this major
initiative was Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.,
President of Gordon-Conwell. General
Editor was Dr. Duane Garrett, former
Gordon-Conwell Professor of Old Testa-
ment, now the John R. Sampey Profes-
sor of Old Testament Literature at The
Southern Baptist Seminary.
The Bible was partially funded by
The Grace Foundation and the Van
Kampen family.
Commenting on the new Bible, Paul
Caminiti, Zondervan’s Vice President
and Publisher of Bibles, notes: “Zonder-
van’s partnership with Gordon-Con-
well Theological Seminary united two
passions to share the full meaning,
relevance and depth of the Scriptures.
Gordon-Conwell, with its strong com-
mitment to scholarship, excellence, and
the Scriptures, was the perfect partner
for The Archaeologtcal StuJ· Btble, a
monumental project that resulted in a
study Bible like no other—one that gives
readers a detailed look at the historical,
archaeological and cultural context of
the Scriptures through extensive photo-
graphs, notes, articles and maps.”
Dr. Kaiser adds, “We at Gordon-
Conwell are extremely grateful for the
fine partnership with Zondervan we
have enjoyed during the five years this
major project has been underway, and
for the generous support of The Grace
Foundation and the Van Kampen family
in its development. Gordon-Conwell is
known for its high view of Scripture
and its vision to stem the famine of the
Word pervading our culture. We trust
that this fascinating and extremely acces-
sible new study Bible will draw readers
into its pages, help them to better under-
stand its truths, and bring them closer to
its Author.” ´
29 wi nt er 05/ 06
Here is a sample of numerous articles and notes readers will find in The Archaeological Study Bible.
30 wi nt er 05/ 06
As we sat together in the small house
on the southern side of this remark-
able archeological ruin in central Israel,
every sound and syllable echoed off
the walls and down the short hallways.
There is always an echo in rooms with
stone floors and plaster walls, and in
spaces that are sparsely decorated with
furniture or rugs. The old man, at least
he seemed to be old, who served us
sweet tea with mint was the keeper and
guardian of the tell, and he exercised
his authority with a sense of paternal
responsibility and devotion.
As I looked through the window
to the north, I could see only the lower
slopes of this impressive ruin, just a
handful of meters away. At first, I
was impatient with the seemingly idle
conversation between old friends. I was
anxious to stand, for the first time, on
the summit of this site that had been the
object of my study for a few years. I felt
like a pilgrim on the outskirts of Mecca,
but I didn’t betray my impatience.
Though I was attentive to the con-
versation, my gaze remained focused on
the little that I could see of Tell Dothan,
one of the impressive archaeological
sites in the northern Samaria hills, not a
great distance from the ruins of ancient
Samaria and Shechem. Today, these
three biblical sites are located in the so-
called West Bank of modern Israel. Each
was established in a spectacular setting.
Shechem was nestled between the great
mountains of Gerizim and Ebal from
which the blessings and curses of the
covenant were recited (Deut. 11; Josh.
8). The view of the surrounding coun-
tryside from the summit of Samaria is
breathtaking and leaves the visitor with
no question as to why it took the Assyr-
ians such a long time time to capture the
city in the late 8th Century B.C., bring-
ing to an end the history of the northern
The physical setting of Tell Dothan
is equally impressive. The site dominates
an expansive valley which has always
been of strategic importance as the most
easterly of the three main passes through
the mountains that separate the Sharon
plain on the Mediterranean coast, and
the Jezreel valley to the north and north-
east. Rising approximately 60 meters
above the surrounding valley, the tell is
a prominent mound composed of nearly
15 meters of stratified remains on top of
a natural hill some 45 meters high.
Tell Dothan has been identified
with the biblical city of the same name,
mentioned in Genesis 37 as the place
where Joseph found his brothers in the
course of their wanderings with the
flocks of their father. According to the
story, Joseph was sent by Jacob from
the valley of Hebron to find his brothers
in the region of Shechem, but learned
that they were tending the flocks in the
area of Dothan. Thereafter, the narrative
describes the intrigue that led to Joseph’s
being taken to Egypt by a caravan of
Ishmaelites (or Midianites) who were
traveling to Egypt via Dothan from
During the period of the monarchy,
Dothan is described as a well-fortified
Gary D. Pratico, Th.D.
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:u:ns oi :h~ b:bi:.ai .::« oi Lo:han, io.a:~d :n «ha: :s no« :h~ w~s: Bani oi Is:a~i. Co:don~Con«~ii
P:~s:d~n: Lm~:::us L:. Pob~:: L. Cooi~« s~:«~d as :h~ ~xp~d:::on`s a:.h::~.: and a:~a sup~:«:so: :n
:jjj, :j6o and :j6¡, and .on::nu~s as L::~.:o: oi Lo:han Pubi:.a::ons and 8~::~s Ld::o:. L:. Ca:«
L. P:a::.o, P:oi~sso: oi Oid T~s:am~n: a: Co:don~Con«~ii, :s a m~mb~: oi :h~ Lo:han Pubi:.a::ons
Comm:::~~ and P::ma:« P~s~a:.h~: io: Epuibo!JJ;!uif!Xftufso!Dfnfufsz. L:. Thomas L. P~::~:,`j,, Ass:s:an:
P:oi~sso: oi Oid T~s:am~n: a: B:bi:.ai 8~m:na:«, :s :h~ «oium~`s p::n.:pai au:ho:. Epuibo!J;!Sfnbjot!gspn!
uif!Ufmm, «as :~i~as~d :n No«~mb~: zooj, b« L:s~nb:auns. 8~:«:ng as p::n.:pai au:ho:s and ~d::o:s «~:~ L:.
¡ohn \onson and L:. Lan:~i \as:~:, bo:h Asso.:a:~ P:oi~sso:s oi A:.ha~oiog« a: wh~a:on Coii~g~.
31 wi nt er 05/ 06
Gary D. Pratico, Th.D.
1. Dothan excavation with Dothan Valley in distance. 2. Western Cemetery Tomb 1 interior; meter stick rests against chamber entrance from the interior. 3. Dr.
Joseph Free, director, Dothan excavations. 4. Western cemetery excavations with stepped entryway to Tomb 1 in foreground. 5. Detail of stepped entryway
to Tomb 1 burial chamber from the inside. 6. Tomb 1 pottery and burial deposits. 7. Dr. Cooley, workmen inspect excavations. Photos courtesy of the Dothan Project.
1 2
4 5
6 7
32 wi nt er 05/ 06
city to which the Aramean king sent
emissaries in search of the prophet Elisha
(2 Kings 6:13-14). It was in this context
that Elisha’s servant was encouraged by
a vision of heavenly forces arrayed on a
hill to the east of the town. It is one of
those biblical narratives that stokes the
imagination, though mine was about to
be fired like an ancient pottery kiln with
my first glimpse of Tell Dothan in its
natural setting.
It was March and the land had the ap-
pearance of that time of year with those
greens that belong only to springtime; the
air was heavy and sweet with the fra-
grance of fruit trees in bloom. As our host
vigorously stirred the last glass of steam-
ing tea, the sound of spoon against glass
danced through the small open space.
“I watch the site closely,” he said, as he
adjusted his kefia and then passed out
the glasses, beginning with
Dr. Robert E. Cooley, who
was at the time Chancellor
of Gordon-Conwell Theo-
logical Seminary and is now
President Emeritus.The care-
taker held his glass by the
rim, between his thumb and
index finger. I noticed that his hands were
worn and bronzed by the sun and looked
old. For many reasons, age comes quickly
in this part of the world, especially in this
part of the country. By way of further
assurance to Dr. Cooley, he repeated his
declaration but added a word of empha-
sis, “I watch the site ver· closely.”
In the excavations of Tell Dothan
between 1953 and 1964, Dr. Cooley had
assisted one of the pioneering figures in
the “early” history of the archaeology
of this land, Dr. Joseph Free, who was
a professor of Archaeology at Wheaton
College. The field excavations represent-
ed the first phase of the Dothan Archae-
ological Project; its second phase was
envisioned as a long-range undertaking
that would publish a multivolume final
report on the excavation of the tell and
one of the most remarkable and impor-
tant tomb complexes in Syria-Palestine.
As the director of the publication
phase of the project, Dr. Cooley was vi-
tally interested in the protection and care
of the site, partly in anticipation of a
younger generation that would probe its
story and treasures with new technolo-
gies and refined excavation techniques.
Gordon-Conwell’s second president
seemed assured by the words of the
caretaker. “The tell is in good hands,”
he said. At that moment, I recalled one
of the excavation photographs with
a very young Robert Cooley, stand-
ing at a drafting table, recording some
field measurements for the largest and
best-preserved of the three tombs in the
Western Cemetery. He looked different
in those early excavation photographs,
not as distinguished and confident as he
does now, some 50 years later.
I watched these two very differ-
ent men, and I listened intently to their
conversation as they talked about those
early days of what now seems like the
prehistory of field archaeology. Dr.
Cooley remembered from experience;
our host remembered because he had
become heir and caretaker of the tradi-
tion as well as the site. He was a young
boy during the years of excavation. Our
friends from Jerusalem University Col-
lege who had joined us on this excur-
sion listened with interest as well. The
conversation was filled with tidbits of
information that were not part of the
written record of the site’s archaeologi-
cal history. I felt a sense of frenzy in my
efforts to categorize and file in my mem-
ory the wealth of anecdotes and mean-
ingful excavation details. I wanted to
take notes but feared that it would be an
intrusuion and would hinder the casual
conversation. This was a gathering of
old friends and a recollection of distant
and personal memories. I couldn’t bring
myself to turn a living room, overflow-
ing with hospitality and warm recollec-
tion, into a lecture hall. I was struck by
the bond between these two men, one
created by their common interest in this
well-known ruin. But even more, I was
struck by the focus and sharpness of the
recollection. One might expect the spirit
and memories of friendship to endure
but hardly the kind of detail that both
men resurrected. Now, only occasionally
did my glance return to the window to
the north.
As I listened to Dr. Cooley recall the
details of the dig and stories about Joe
and Ruby Free, I found myself thinking,
“I didn’t know that.” His recollections
touched upon most of the major areas
of excavation: Area T on the eastern ex-
tremity of the tell’s summit, the highest
part of the mound, which Free called the
acropolis; Area A which was dominated
by a Hellenistic settlement dating to
the 3rd and 2nd Centuries B.C., and
beneath which was discovered signifi-
cant architecture from the Iron Age; the
massive Early Bronze fortifications in
Area D that were preserved to a height
of 5 meters with a projected height of
nearly 8 meters; and Area L with its Iron
Age buildings and impressive Bronze
Age fortifications.
And then, finally,
the reminiscences
turned to the
Western Cemeter·
in Area K. This
was the part of the
tell that I had been
studying for a time that could only be
measured in years.
Toward the end of the 1959 season,
the excavators uncovered a circular,
stone-lined pit that diminished in size
until it funneled into a square-cut shaft
in the bedrock. About 1 meter down the
shaft, a stone slab was uncovered, lean-
ing against a rock-cut doorway. Thus
began the excavation of one of Tell
Dothan’s most significant discoveries, the
so-called Western Cemeter·. The largest
tomb of this cemetery (Tomb 1) was
discovered four days before the conclu-
sion of the 1959 season. During those
four days, the team worked around the
clock in eight-hour shifts in the hope
of clearing the burial chamber. The
objective was not realized. Only 1 meter
of the tomb chamber was excavated,
with the removal of 52 pottery vessels
of the early Iron Age (12th Century
B.C and later), including lamps, bowls
and chalices as well as numerous other
objects and skeletal remains. Reluctantly,
the tomb was sealed with reinforced con-
crete. No one could have imagined that
nearly 3000 more vessles, 234 bronze ob-
tell dothan has been identified with the biblical city
of the same name, mentioned in genesis 37 as the place
vnrir jc·rvn rcUNi ni· vic1nri· iN 1nr ccUi·r cr 1nrii
vnNiriiNc· vi1n 1nr rccx· cr 1nrii rn1nri.
33 wi nt er 05/ 06
jects, and several hundred human burials
awaited in the largest single-chambered
tomb with the largest number of burial
deposits to have been excavated in the
Levant up to that time. It was the stuff
of which an Indiana Jones movie might
be made.
Under Dr. Cooley’s direction, exca-
vation of the tomb complex began the
next season and continued into 1964.
Three tombs were uncovered, but the
largest and most important was Tomb 1.
Its burial chamber was accessed through
a vertical shaft and a stepped entryway.
The chamber was basically rectangular
with rounded corners, measuring near-
ly 8.5 meters west to east and 5 meters
north to south. The tomb contained eight
crypts or burial niches; six were cut into
the rock walls and two were constructed
at a later time.
A small channel was
discovered above one of
the crypts, which creat-
ed an opening to the ex-
terior of the tomb. Two
large storage jars, each
with a dipper juglet,
were discovered below
the opening on the outside. This channel
obviously served a ritual function, likely
the means by which provisions were pro-
vided to the deceased after burial. Aston-
ishingly, the tomb was distinctly stratified
in five levels. Each of the five burial lev-
els was clearly and completely separated
from the one above and the one below by
a layer of limestone and/or earthen fill.
The tomb deposits in each level were
remarkable in their concentration. The
excavation photographs captivate the
imagination. The five levels yielded ap-
proximately 3000 pottery vessels of vari-
ous types; dozens of personal ornaments,
mostly of bronze, including bracelets,
pendants, rings, earrings and toggle
pins; numerous types of weapons, such
as daggers, spears and projectile points;
and many unique finds (seven-spouted
lamps, zoomorphic vessels and a stun-
ning anthropomorphic lamp). Scattered
throughout the levels of the tomb were
several hundred skulls in various states
of preservation and hundreds of bones
and bone fragments.
Dr. Cooley’s recollections of the
contents of the tomb were remarkable
in their detail. He remembered specific
vessels by their field numbers and could
even recall the relationship between
various pieces of pottery in each of the
tomb levels. It was clear that the details
of tomb excavation had been indelibly
seared into his memory. I suppose that
is not unexpected when the excavation
director is also the project’s architect,
editor and one of its primary authors.
Recognizing that our time was on
the wane and still hoping for a brief
stop at the biblical site of Shiloh on our
return to Jerusalem later that day, it was
suggested that we visit the site. The six
of us climbed the steep pathway on the
southeastern side of the tell, on the op-
posite side of the western cemetery. We
moved in the direction of the acropolis,
the highest point of the site. The view
in every direction was stunning. To the
north and east, the terraced hills rose
well above the height of the tell and
they were close, though not so close as
to hinder the impression of Dothan’s
topographical distinctness. The site
was enclosed on its south side by hills
of similar height, but they were more
distant than those to the north and east.
To the west stretched the expanse of the
Dothan Valley.
Though some ruins protruded from
the surface and were visible through
the low brush and grasses that covered
the site, it was difficult at a glance to
become oriented to the precise loca-
tion of the various areas of excavation.
Any measure of disappointment with
the meager remains on the surface was
diminished by the views, especially
that to the east. Though it was not a
breathtaking or panoramic view, as were
those in the other compass directions, it
was in this direction that Elisha’s servant
was allowed to see the invisible armies
of God that were gathered against the
forces of Aram on “a hill to the east of
the town.”
This story from 2 Kings 6 has been
a source of endless fascination from
my youth, specifically the vision of the
prophet’s servant which appears to
have been altogether comforting to him.
Now, as I contemplated that ancient
revelation in its real world physical
setting, the narrative came to life far
more dramatically and more powerfully
than when my imagination informed
my understanding. Approaching the half
century mark as a serious student of the
Bible, it is my firm belief that a measure
of familiarity with the disciplines of
physical and historical geography and
biblical archaeology will immeasurably
enhance one’s understanding of the bibli-
cal record.
In order to photograph the eastern
half of the site in its physical setting and
also to ponder (tn sttu) the details of
this mesmerizing biblical story, I stayed
behind as the group
moved further to the
north. Soon, I hur-
riedly moved in the
direction of the West-
ern Cemetery. Neither
thorns nor a shiny
black snake hindered
my direct course across the tell to the
western tombs, though the snake did
elicit a modest scream! As I approached
the depression which marked the loca-
tion of Tomb 1 on the far western end
of the site, even from a distance I could
see a heavy concentration of potsherds
protruding from the earthen walls. There
was even one vessel that appeared to
be completely intact, hanging precari-
ously from a vertical wall of debris that
preserved the archaeological record of
the tomb.
The presence of an Iron Age vessel,
fully accessible to any passerby, was
testimony to the fact that the caretaker
did indeed watch the site with almost
paternal devotion. While much of the
tomb architecture was buried beneath
fill, the area in general was strewn with
a heavy concentration of pottery sherds,
all of them recognizable forms from the
tomb’s ceramic repertoire. I just looked
and photographed, though the instinct to
probe was hard to restrain. I kept an eye
on my traveling companions who were
working their way in my direction; there
was still time to sit quietly on the edge
it was in this direction that elisha’s servant
was allowed to see the invisible armies of god that
were gathered against the forces of aram on
“a hill to the east of the town.”
34 wi nt er 05/ 06
of this 3500 year old burial chamber
and to reflect on a discovery which is as
remarkable today as it was when first
discovered in 1959.
While there are many unanswered
questions regarding the mortuary prac-
tices of the Western Cemetery, a number
of observations may be advanced regard-
ing the reconstruction of Tomb 1 burial
ritual. Upon the death of a family mem-
ber, the body was taken to the ancestral
tomb that was located in the limestone es-
carpment on the extreme western side of
the settlement. With the
opening of the tomb, the
bones of earlier burials
were unceremoniously
swept to the sides of the
chamber, thereby pro-
viding space for the new
burial. The body was
then placed on the floor of the chamber
or on the debris of earlier burials, either
in an extended or full-length position with
no uniform orientation. Numerous buri-
als were documented in which the skeletal
remains were covered with the sherds of
large storage jars.
Vessels and personal possessions
were either placed around the circumfer-
ence of the tomb or carefully arranged
around the body. The deposits appear
to represent the full complement of
everyday articles that would provide the
deceased with material needs for the
afterlife and/or the journey thereto. Food
and drink were included in the burial
deposits, and the presence of clay lamps
in large numbers suggests the importance
of light. Following the interment, the
doorway to the chamber was closed with
a blocking stone and the shaft was filled
with debris. The tomb was reopened and
the mortuary rituals were repeated with
subsequent burials.
The evidence suggests that there
existed a contrast in attitude toward the
corpse between the time of burial and af-
ter the decomposition of the flesh. At the
time of burial, scrupulous care was exer-
cised in the placement of the corpse and
in the arrangement of the burial depos-
its. Once the body was transformed into
a pile of bones, it was treated with little
respect. It was normal practice to sweep
aside the bones and deposits of earlier
burials into a heap. Apparently, it was
believed that the deceased was sentient
and therefore needed sustenance as long
as the flesh had not completely decom-
posed. With decomposition, however,
the descendants could with impunity
destroy or perhaps even remove certain
of the burial deposits. The tomb was not
considered to be the permanent residence
of the dead but only a temporary station
on the way to the netherworld. There is
no evidence that burial deposits were re-
newed periodically, nor were additional
offerings placed in the tombs in the years
that followed burial.
Though the Dothan tombs are not to
be associated with the Israelites of the
Old Testament, it would appear that
the practices of the Western Cemetery
(specifically those of Tomb 1) provide a
cultural context for understanding the
biblical formula “gathered to his kin/an-
cestors/fathers” which clearly indicates
death and the ritual of burial (Gen. 25:8,
17; 35:29; 49:29, 33; Num. 20:24; 31:2;
Deut. 31:14; 32:50; 34:5; Jud. 2:10). Al-
though various interpretations have been
suggested for this expression, it certainly
evokes the image of the deceased being
reunited with ancestors in the family
tomb. Interpreting the biblical formula in
light of the material evidence of the Do-
than burial complex, with its many strik-
ing parallels with other Late Bronze Age
burial sites in the eastern Mediterranean,
creates a much richer and more vivid
understanding of the biblical imagery.
In that soft and pleasing light of
a late afternoon in March, we loaded
into the van and began our return to
Jerusalem through the Dothan Valley.
Through the rear window, I watched the
site diminish and finally blend with its
natural setting. Seconds later, the dark
green color of the tall trees beside the
caretaker’s house disappeared as well.
My traveling companions were fully
engaged in conversa-
tion, but I didn’t hear a
word. It was something
of a surprise to hear
them talking when I
turned around. I didn’t
join the conversation
but now stared out the
side window trying to soak up the last
impressions of the valley. In the distance,
I caught a glimpse of a shepherd, stand-
ing off to the side of a rather large herd
of sheep and goats.
It was perhaps fitting that this memo-
rable visit to the Dothan Valley should
end with an impression reminiscent of
Genesis 37. It is one of the great joys of
travel in this land. It takes little effort
to see the Bible come to life. Sometimes,
it happens when you just look out the
window and watch. ´
Dr. Gary D. Pratico is Professor
of Old Testament and Director of
the Hebrew Language Program
at Gordon-Conwell Theological
Seminary in South Hamilton, Mas-
sachusetts. Dr. Pratico was curator
of archaeological collections at
the Harvard Semitic Museum from
September 1982 until December
1993 and has participated in archaeological projects
in North Africa, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan. He is
co-author of Basics of Biblical Hebrew, with Miles
Van Pelt.
The deposits appear to represent the full complement
of everyday articles that would provide the
deceased with material needs for the afterlife
nNi/ci 1nr jcUiNr. 1nrir1c.
35 wi nt er 05/ 06
Buried cities dot the landscape throughout the
Lands of the Bible. In fact, it has been estimated
that more than 25,000 such ruined cities are in
existence. Over 6,500 sites are catalogued in the
records of the Iraq Department of Antiquities.
Israel and Jordan, the central geographical focus
for the study of Ancient Israel, have over 5000
sites on record.
One of these is the imposing and typical
mound of ruins at Dothan. The Tell (mound)
dominates the Plain of Dothan that was of such
strategic importance during the days of Joseph
(Genesis 37) and Elisha (II Kings 6). This fertile
Plain lies between the northern end of the Sa-
maria Hills and the Carmel range and provided
excellent passage to the northern and southern
regions of Ancient Palestine. The Tell rises 60
meters above the surrounding plain and com-
prises some 25 acres of occupational space. Its
sloping sides and at summit give it the classic
shape of a tell. An abundant source of water is
located at the spring on its southern base and
this source, no doubt, served the site well in
My rst viewings of the site are etched deep
in my memory. It was in the late 1950’s that I
joined the Dothan Archaeological Expedition to
serve as the architect and an area supervisor. As
I climbed the mound daily, I was reminded of all
of the prerequisites that made this a signicant
site for habitation—ample fertile land, acces-
sible water, a defendable position and located on
transportation routes. Agricultural and pastoral
pursuits could sustain well a sizeable population,
who could easily engage in commerce through-
out the region. At the same time, its inhabitants
were situated high on the foundational bedrock
outcropping of limestone and could defend
themselves from any invader.
The major reason that cities in antiquity
were buried was due to the building, destruc-
tion and rebuilding cycle. Sites, such as Dothan,
suited the needs of later generations, and the
subsequent settlements in the same location
created the articial mound of ruins known as a
tell. Armies and warfare were the major forces
for destruction, but a site could be destroyed
through earthquake, abandonment due to
Robert E. Cooley, Ph.D.
profile of a buried city
Photos and renderings courtesy of the Dothan Project.
36 wi nt er 05/ 06
plagues or other such causes. Since Dothan was occupied for
thousands of years, the accumulated ruins included more than 20
layers of ruined cities, each forming a stratum of material culture.
These materials represent a span of time from the Neolithic
Period (4000 B.C.) to the Mameluke Period (14-15th Century
A.D.). The Expedition’s work yielded an impressive archaeologi-
cal record of a city that was well fortied and served its popula-
tion well, including the regional societies in the nearby hills.
We investigated six major sections of the Tell. These sections
were designated by letters—T, B, A, D, L, K. Within the “K”
section, the site’s Western Cemetery was discovered. These six
sections were excavated according to the methodology standards
of the day and these were forged during the post-World War I
period. At the heart of this methodological approach was a focus
upon the horizontal dimension of occupational evidence, with

special attention to pottery and architectural remains. As a result,
Dothan was excavated in “areas,” which were laid out on a grid
pattern in each section. Further, each “area” was excavated in
“levels” expressed in centimeters below the surface. These levels
included varying soil conditions and several oor levels, but usu-
ally only one building structure. In fact, architectural remains of-
ten determined when one level ended and another began. As the
Expedition’s architect, I had the wonderful opportunity to study
the remains of structures in all six sections. Daily pottery nds
and objects were recorded in large books. These records, along
with eld notebooks, drawings and photographs, constituted the
basis for understanding the occupational history of the site.
During this period of time, newer digging methods were be-
ing designed by others and these were bringing a site’s vertical
dimension and the sequence of culture history into signicance.
Stratigraphical analysis, along with material analysis, computer
graphics, integrated disciplines and newer interpretative frame-
works now mark the progress in archaeological methodology. I
was able to blend these two dimensions into a method for exca-
vating the Western Cemetery, discussed in another article by my
colleague, Gary Pratico.
The summit of Tell Dothan slopes gently from east to west.
At the eastern upper end of this summit was located Area “T”
and designated as the “acropolis.” The major discovery in this
area was a Mameluke courtyard farmhouse consisting of about
25 rooms arranged around the courtyard. At the southwestern
end of the summit, numerous Mameluke burials were uncovered.
Among the nds were Islamic glass bracelets, painted pottery in-
cluding geometric Arab and glazed painted ware, and a remark-
able decorated pilgrim ask. Numerous well-preserved bread
ovens were found on beaten earth oors. This early second mil-
lennium A.D. farmhouse and its associated materials should be of
value to future studies of the Mameluke period.
Area “B” is adjacent to “T” and includes some portions of the
Mameluke farmhouse. This area produced substantial quantities
of Roman or Byzantine pottery, and the architectural highlight
was a building with massive walls. Its function could not be
clearly discerned. The pottery consists of cups, plates, cooking
pots and jugs. What does seem evident is that Dothan belonged
to a network of small villages that dotted the region in the Early
Roman and Byzantine periods, and its structures add another ex-
ample to the growing corpus of settlements during these periods.
As we continue our literary excursion down the vertical his-
tory of Tell Dothan, we come to the Hellenistic period remains
located in Area “A.” These remains are signicant in that they
document the site’s existence during the times referenced in the

book of Judith, a Jewish wisdom story that is contemporary with
the dated Dothan remains. Included among the remains are 16
Rhodian jar handles with stamp seals and a coin of Antiochus
VII, inscribed “Antiochus the King.” While this Hellenistic
settlement is small, the material culture provides new data for
conceptualizing the book of Judith. I am condent that future
investigators will expand understanding of the signicance of
Dothan’s role in this time period and geographical setting.
The Iron Age (1200–586 B.C.) at Dothan is represented in the
extensive remains found in Areas “A” and “L.” Architectural
remains in these areas feature numerous domestic structures, a
long narrow street with walls preserved 2 meters high on either
side that was named “Wall Street,” and several burials, including
adult skeletons and infant jar burials. Among these structures was
an Israelite four-room house and nearby, was a cache of whole
vessels, the most famous of which was a unique zoomorphic
multihandled krater. In fact, Areas “A” and “L” produced the best
pottery assemblages discovered throughout the excavated areas.
These assemblages are extremely valuable in the ongoing conversa-
tion regarding Canaanite regions and Israelite settlements.
In the western extremes of these two vastly excavated areas,
signicant Iron Age II occupational phases were uncovered.
Fourteen houses were revealed, and a massive building of thick
walls and 20 rooms was uncovered and named the “adminis-
trative building.” This building was designed around a central
courtyard. Nearby were several silos for grain storage. Grain and
other charred materials were found on the building’s beaten earth
oors. The most common pottery form found in this building
was a handless jar with a at bottom and thickened rim. C14
samples taken from grain stored inside these jars t with the late
9th Century date for the destruction of the administrative build-
1. Biconical Jar 2. Biconical Jar 3. Pyxis 4. Chalice 5. Lamp 6. Multihandled Krater 7. Stirrup Jar 8. Flask
37 wi nt er 05/ 06
ing. These jars may have been a standard of dry measure. A series
of burials were found across the “L” Area, including an adult
burial in a pottery coffin and several jar burials. The evidence
recovered from this vast area suggests the Israelite occupa-
tion of the site during the days of Elisha (II Kings 6) and the
subsequent presence of Assyrian populations.
Although Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.) pottery ap-
pears throughout the site’s assemblage, no substantial ceramic
assemblage or coherent architecture was found on the Tell.
This occupational period is best represented in the Western
Cemetery, the location of Tomb 1 and its five levels dating to
a time sequence of 1400 to 1100 B.C.
Areas “A,” “D” and “K” provide sufficient evidence of
the city’s fortification system, especially during the Early
Bronze II-III phases and in the Middle Bronze period (3000-
1550 B.C.). Some of
the walls remained to
a height of 5 meters.
A gateway and towers
were partially un-
covered and on the
southern side of the
tell, a large flight of
stone steps survived to
a maximum width of 4
meters. The Early
Bronze II-III period has been characterized as a massive
urbanization movement throughout the Levant. Tell Dothan
flourished for the first time in the Early Bronze II period and
reflects the pattern of urbanization discovered at other sites
in the region. Therefore, Dothan represents a significant addi-
tion to the inventory of Early Bronze Age remains in North-
ern Palestine.
The Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods (5000-3000 B.C.)
round out the sequence in the culture history of Dothan.
These periods are well represented at sites throughout the
country’s northern region, so it is not surprising to find such
remains at a site like Dothan.
These prehistoric materials were found at the base of vari-
ous probes in Area “D” and are in the form of distinct period
pottery sherds. Future excavations may uncover substantial
evidence for these early periods and add immeasurable infor-
mation to our understanding of the prehistory of Palestine.
Joseph P. Free, the Director of the Dothan Archaeological
Expedition and the site’s primary excavator, by all accounts
declared himself a “biblical archaeologist.” He constantly,
throughout each season of excavation, emphasized the inter-
secting of Dothan’s material remains with the biblical account
of Ancient Israel. Our discussions were long and engaging,
raising numerous themes relative to the nature of biblical
narrative, of archaeology and of the “archaeologist.” Are the
biblical statements of faith susceptible to the archaeological
endeavor? Are archaeological methodologies sufficiently de-
veloped to shed light on statements of historical fact? We can
say at this point in time that no statement of historical fact in
the Bible has been proven untrue on the basis of the material
remains discovered through archaeological research.
Also, we can say that archaeology is only in its infancy as a
research discipline and must continue to develop its methodologi-
cal capacities to render clearer understandings of old data and to
better understand new data as it is discovered. We cannot leave
the “archaeologist” out of this discussion. The archaeologist
not only digs, but he or she interprets the ndings and strives to
arrive at the fullest meaning possible. This means that the inter-
preter brings to the task a particular educational background,
life experiences, and his or her philosophical presuppositions. In
Biblical Archaeology, this involves views of the Bible. Archaeo-
logical research cannot be used to “prove the Bible.” The Bible
needs no proof of its inspiration and authenticity. My “career in
ruins” began at the buried city of Dothan. ´
Dr. Robert E. Cooley is President Emeritus of Gordon Conwell
Theological Seminary and served from 1981 to 1997 as
its second president. Under his leadership, the school expe-
rienced tremendous growth in faculty, majors, students, and
financial strength. During the past 40 years he has directed
excavations at locations such as Tell Dothan, Khirbet Haiyan
and Khirbet Raddana in Israel, Tell er-Retaba in Egypt and at
numerous sites in North America.
1. Biconical Jar 2. Biconical Jar 3. Pyxis 4. Chalice 5. Lamp 6. Multihandled Krater 7. Stirrup Jar 8. Flask
Dr. Robert Cooley, right, at Dothan excavation site.
38 wi nt er 05/ 06
Seminary Trustee John G.
Talcott, Jr. is immersed in
history. He is a direct de-
scendent of John Talcott,
who was in Thomas Hooker’s
company that founded Hart-
ford, Connecticut, in 1635,
and built the first home in
that community. And John Jr. was born in the town of Talcot-
tville, Connecticut, in 1908, almost a century ago.
At 97, Talcott still feels it is important for a Gordon-Conwell
Trustee to walk in the Gordon-Conwell Commencement ceremo-
ny, mainly for the students and their families, “to support them
and so they see that we are really interested in participating ...
and the fact that I like to march anyway.”
Marching is also something John Talcott has done for quite some
time, initially as a member of the Transportation Corps in World
War II from 1942-1945. He has continued to do so as a Trustee
of Gordon-Conwell since 1971 and at various other military
related events. He most recently marched in the Fourth of July
Parade in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he currently lives
during the summer.
Talcott grew up in Connecticut, eventually graduating from Yale
University in 1935. After holding a number of positions at the
Talcottville Woolen plant, which closed in 1941, he joined the
Army. After leaving the Armed Forces, he then spent eight years
on the Board of Education in Vernon, Connecticut, and five years
as a Deputy Fire Chief. Since 1964, he has grown cranberries
in Massachusetts and also served as a director of Ocean Spray
Mr. Talcott has filled his long life with a number of other posi-
tions and accomplishments: Trustee of Springfield College,
President of the Massachusetts Society for Aiding Discharged
Prisoners, and founding member of Intercessors for America.
As a resident of Plymouth, he was Chairman of the Plymouth
350th Anniversary Committee from 1970-1971; Chairman of
the Plymouth Bicentennial Commission that erected the bronze
statue of Governor William Bradford in 1976; Trustee, President
and Fellow of the Pilgrim Society; founder of the Plymouth Rock
Foundation, and the list could go on.
Mr. Talcott joined the seminary Board two years after the merger,
and was Secretary of the Board from 1975-1997. During his
tenure, Mr. Talcott has witnessed a number of changes, in the
world and at the seminary. He has seen the seminary open the
Boston and Charlotte campuses, and initiate the Jacksonville
extension site; has observed the number of students, faculty
and Trustees grow; and he has worked with three seminary presi-
dents. “We have been very fortunate in the presidents that we’ve
had,” he says. “They have been outstanding.” It was with Dr.
Harold John Ockenga, first president of the combined schools,
however, that he had a special relationship. Dr. Ockenga “was
very inspiring to me,” he says. “We both had a summer resi-
dence in Bridgewater, New Hampshire, [and] he was part of
the Boston Billy Graham Crusade in 1950. I was born again at
those meetings.” Talcott remembers the date exactly. “It was in
Mechanic’s Hall. They had started the crusade at Park Street
Church, but it got too large. So they moved it to Mechanic’s
Hall. I had been going to church, but was a nominal Christian. I
even was the Sunday School superintendent, but didn’t have a
personal relationship. On January 5, 1950, my wife and I went
forward and were born again. It was then that I accepted the
sacrifice for my life of sin and the forgiveness of those sins.”
From that time on, his life began to change. He said his decision
to accept Christ affected every aspect of his life, his family, his
“associations and...the rules that I have followed.” It has also
enabled him “to be able to overcome all of the activity and com-
mitments and experience [the forgiveness], to be able to know
the Lord’s will and to be able to do His will and make sure that
it is His will and not just my own.” That, says Mr. Talcott, is an
aspect of the Christian life that has taken a long time to learn.
“More and more, [I ask] is this the Lord’s will, or have I allowed
myself to dominate?
“That has taken the longest time...to be sure that this is the
Lord’s will, and to never miss an opportunity to witness. Some-
times, God allows some of us to live longer because we haven’t
accomplished all he wanted us to do.” Given the opportunity to
witness, “I just don’t want to miss that point when it comes.”
Michael L. Colaneri is Assistant Director of Communications at Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary
John G. Talcott, Jr.
Michael L. Colaneri
39 wi nt er 05/ 06
Renovation of a new, larger headquarters for the Gordon-Conwell
Boston campus, the Center for Urban Ministerial Education
(CUME), is nearing the finish line.
According to Deney Morgenthal, Director of Facilities and Own-
er’s Representative for the reconstruction project, the mechani-
cal, electrical and plumbing infrastructure is in place; walls have
been framed; and drywall installation is underway.
Occupancy of the 15,511 square foot building in the Dudley
Square neighborhood of Roxbury, Massachusetts, is scheduled
for mid-February, 2006.
The new campus building will triple the space available to serve
Hispanic/Latino, African American, Caribbean-American, Asian
and other ethnic minority students preparing for ministry as pas-
tors, youth workers and church leaders in urban settings. The
new facility will house a markedly expanded urbanology library,
small prayer chapel, several classrooms, faculty and staff of-
fices, and a large seminar and conference room equipped for
The new videoconferencing capability will enable students to
take classes from the South Hamilton and Charlotte campuses,
and for students from those locations to enroll in urban ministry
courses offered at CUME.
To be known as The Michael Haynes Center for Urban Ministerial
Education, the new campus headquarters is named in honor of
Dr. Michael E. Haynes, a longtime seminary Trustee who served
for 53 years on the ministerial staff of nearby Twelfth Baptist
Church, including 40 years as Senior Minister. Dr. Haynes was
a leader in the development of CUME, and Twelfth Baptist has
been a continuous site for classes since the campus opened in
In addition to utilizing the new classrooms at the Roxbury fa-
cility, CUME will continue its longstanding Pilgrim model of
education, also holding classes at multiple locations throughout
Boston, Springfield and Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Provi-
dence, Rhode Island. This model enables students to learn in
the context where they will minister, and to take classes near
their homes or workplaces.
A $6.2 million capital campaign is underway, with $2.5 mil-
lion still needed to fund renovation and endowment. For more
information and to contribute to this initiative, contact Howard
Freeman, Chief Development Officer, at 978.646.4033, or
New Boston Campus Opening Soon
New Archaeological Study
Bible to Be Unveiled at March
Ockenga Conference
Mark your calendars for a major Gordon-Conwell conference, The Bible
and Archaeology: How to Read the Bible in a Whole New Way, March
21-22, 2006.
Filled with two days of in-depth lectures, breakout sessions and alumni/
ae activities, the conference will celebrate a major seminary milestone—
the publication with Zondervan of The Archaeological Study Bible sched-
uled for release in March 2006—and will provide tools for pastors and
lay persons that will enrich Bible study and awareness of the historical
context in which the Bible takes place.
The new Bible, anticipated to be released just prior to the conference,
will be previewed by Gordon-Conwell President, Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.,
who served as its Senior Editor, and Dr. Duane Garrett, former Professor
of Old Testament, now the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament
Literature at The Southern Baptist Seminary, who was General Editor.
Additional conference highlights will
include a plenary presentation by Dr.
Timothy S. Laniak, Associate Professor
of Old Testament at the Charlotte cam-
pus, and presentations on the Dothan
project, a major excavation in central
Israel at the site that appears both in
the Joseph narratives of Genesis 37,
and the 2 Kings 6 chronicle of the invis-
ible armies of God. President Emeritus
Dr. Robert E. Cooley, who served as an
archaeologist at this site for more than
a decade and has directed the subse-
quent publication phase of the project,
will address an evening dinner and cel-
ebration event.
Other conference presenters who also
served on the Dothan project will include Dr. Gary D. Pratico, Professor of
Old Testament, Gordon-Conwell; Dr. John Monson, Associate Professor of
Archaeology at Wheaton College; and Dr. Thomas D. Petter, ’97, Assistant
Professor of Old Testament at Biblical Seminary. The first of two Dothan
volumes was released by Eisenbrauns in November 2005.
For more information about the Biblical Archaeology conference, visit
www.gordonconwell.edu/Ockenga, or call 1.800.294.2774.
40 wi nt er 05/ 06
A number of prospective students have applied to the new Gordon-Con-
well extension site in Jacksonville, Florida, and classes will begin in
February 2006.
“The response of the Jacksonville community has been encouraging and
gratifying,” says Dr. Sidney L. Bradley, Dean of the Charlotte campus
and the Jacksonville site. “The applications are coming in steadily, and
we anticipate a grand beginning.”
Two courses will be offered in February: Foundations of Leadership in
Ministry and Church History. These will be available on weekends and
occasional one-week intensives.
New Jacksonville Extension on Target for February Opening
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. is the recipient of the Wheaton College Alumnus
of the Year 2005 Award for Distinguished Service to Alma Mater.
Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, were honored at a number of events at
the Wheaton, Illinois, campus during Homecoming Weekend in early
A citation presented to Dr. Kaiser by Wheaton President Duane Litfin
and Alumni Association President Bob Dye noted: “Guarding the gospel
through scholarship and instruction, you have mastered the teacher’s
art. Sharing the gospel by mentoring and leading, you have for many
decades sown rich seeds in young lives to yield an abundant harvest of
righteousness. We thank you for your distinguished service to Wheaton,
Walt. And we praise God for your faithfulness in showing us His glory.”
Dr. Kaiser received an A.B. from Wheaton College, a B.D. from Wheaton
Graduate School, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Mediterranean Studies from
Brandeis University, and was recipient of the Danforth Teacher Study
Grant. He is a member of the Wheaton College Scholastic Honor Society.
Dr. Kaiser also taught Bible and archaeology at Wheaton College,
receiving the Junior Teacher of the Year Award. He subsequently joined
the Old Testament faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where
he was to become Senior Vice President of Education, Academic Dean,
and Senior Vice President of Distance Learning and Ministries. In 1993,
he was named the Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old
Testament at Gordon-Conwell, and in 1997, became the seminary’s third
Dr. Kaiser has been a member of the Wheaton Board of Trustees for
23 years, and also serves on the boards of several other Christian
President Kaiser Honored by Wheaton Alumni Association
Jacksonville resident Kent D. Gilbert has been named Assistant to the
Dean and will manage operations for the Florida program. Gilbert served
for 28 years with Young Life, including 11 years as Metro and Regional
Director in Jacksonville, and most recently was associated with Cham-
pion Golf Events.
Jacksonville students can pursue the Master of Theological Stud-
ies (MTS) degree. Permission will be sought from accreditors in a few
years to grant the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree. All degrees will be
received through the Charlotte campus. Students can also take up to
one-third of the required courses for either degree through Semlink, the
seminary’s distance education program.
The new theological education program in Jacksonville began at the
impetus of an exploratory committee of Jacksonville alumni/ae pastors
and other church leaders led by Dr. Robert Morris, Senior Minister of
First Presbyterian Church. The church leaders approached the seminary
some months ago about providing courses in their region and have sub-
sequently raised $142,000 towards operating the new extension site this
coming year.
“It has been an exciting experience to be part of this new initiative by
Gordon-Conwell, and to be part of a fabulous team in Jacksonville that
has worked so tirelessly to establish the new extension site,” Gilbert
says. “God has brought together a team that is truly a microcosm of our
community. We would not be where we are today without the efforts of so
many during the last 10 months.”
For more information, contact Kent Gilbert at 904.874.2556 or
41 wi nt er 05/ 06
Gordon Conwell offers free, online lectures
Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary has recently completed Dimen-
sions of the Faith, a free curriculum that offers 10 courses in subjects
foundational to the Christian faith. Geared toward the general audience,
the courses consist of study guides and audio lectures taught by current
and former Gordon Conwell faculty.
Dimensions courses and the faculty members who teach them include:
sStudying the Bible for All Its Worth: Biblical Interpretation, Dr. Doug-
las K. Stuart, Professor of Old Testament
sCreation, Covenant, and Kings: An Old Testament Survey from Genesis
to Song of Songs, Dr. Douglas K. Stuart
sProphets and Promise: An Old Testament Survey from Psalms to Mala-
chi, Dr. Douglas K. Stuart
sChrist and His Church: A New Testament Survey of the Gospels and
the Acts of the Apostles, Dr. T. David Gordon, former New Testament
sLetters to God’s People: A New Testament Survey from Romans to Rev-
elation, Dr. T. David Gordon
sGod’s People Through the Ages – Part I: A Church History Survey from
Pentecost to the Reformation, Dr. Garth M. Rosell, Professor of Church
sGod’s People Through the Ages – Part II: A Church History Survey from
the Reformation to the Present, Dr. Garth M. Rosell
sTheology Matters – Part I: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters,
Dr. David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical
and Systematic Theology
sTheology Matters – Part II: What Christians Believe and Why It Mat-
ters, Dr. David F. Wells
sLoving a Lost World: Evangelism and Missions, Dr. Timothy C. Tennent,
Associate Professor of World Missions, Director of Missions Programs
and Chair of the J. Christy Wilson, Jr. Center for World Missions
Since the launch of Dimensions of the Faith, hundreds of individuals,
churches and organizations across the globe have accessed this free
course of study.
“The goal of Dimensions of the Faith has always been to provide a
comprehensive course of theological education targeted for use in the
Church,” says Dr. David G. Horn, Director of the Ockenga Institute. “In
the process of development, we have also expanded our goals to include
a special focus on international settings, particularly offering this pro-
gram to missions and other parachurch organizations.”
While developing the program, the Ockenga Institute tested its use in
various settings, both internationally and domestically. Horn says the re-
sults have been very positive. A Romanian pastor wanted to be “...better
equipped to preach and teach, and get leadership skills.”
First Congregational Church in Middleborough, Massachusetts, has been
testing the program in a group setting. Says Pastor Peter Murdy, “I saw
this as an opportunity to give lay people in the church a more serious and
structured overview of several important areas of the Christian faith.”
Students who take all 10 courses receive a certificate of completion
from Gordon-Conwell in recognition of their work to enrich themselves
in the foundational truths of God’s Word. Courses from this non-degree
program are not transferable to degree programs.
Courses are available in three formats. Students can access free lectures
and study guides online; or they can order at modest cost either an audio
CD and printed study guide, or a CD-ROM with audio and notebook files.
The latter two choices are available at the Ockenga Store (www.gordon-
conwell.edu/ockenga/store), or by calling 1.800.294.2774. To sign up
for the program, go to www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga,/dimensions.
Gordon-Conwell Professor and Students
Provide Disaster Relief in Mississippi
Dr. Paul Lim, Assistant Professor of Theology, four Gordon-Conwell stu-
dents, and two members of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Brookline,
Massachusetts where Lim serves as Associate Pastor, drove 28 hours
from Boston to D’Iberville, Mississippi in early November to provide
humanitarian aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Gordon-Conwell students participating in the outreach to the Gulf Coast
included Meredith Conrow, Troy Henley, James Park and Nicole Poirier.
Living in a tent city, provided under the auspices of Presbyterian Disaster
Assistance (PCUSA) and projected to remain open for the next five to six
years, the team worked to “muck” a house on Pringle Avenue rendered
uninhabitable after being submerged in 9 feet of water for four days.
The team’s other relief work responsibilities included rearranging the
aisles in the POD (Point of Distribution), a make-shift “supermarket”
for handing out daily needs of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. On
their last day, the team cleared out debris at the home of a senior citizen
where a number of trees had fallen during the raging storm.
Their labor in D’Iberville was rewarded by the visit of Mike, owner of the
Pringle Avenue house, and Morgan, his five-year old daughter. The team
prayed with and for Mike and Morgan, shared laughter, and presented
Bibles to them and a Barbie Doll to Morgan. In return, Mike took off his
fireman’s hat and shirt and gave it to Lim, promising to send the same
for the entire team.
According to Lim, “It was a beautiful sight to behold, seeing the gra-
cious cycle of charity make its round.”
Lim adds, “Franz Kafka wrote in one of his deservedly famous notebooks:
‘Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link
between this world and the positive,’ As bewildered as we might otherwise
have been by Kafka’s depiction of suffering as potentially salutary and
positive, during our trip down to D’Iberville, Mississippi, the eight of us
got to experience how suffering can ennoble and inflame hope.”
Katrina Outreach team members: Front, Katrina McGarry. Back row l. to r., Troy Hen-
ley, James Park and Paul Lim

42 wi nt er 05/ 06
Gordon-Conwell Student Discovers God’s Faithfulness in the Storm
When Cliff Singletary talks
about the Gordon-Conwell
community, he calls it “the
family”—new friends who
welcomed his own family
when Hurricane Katrina de-
stroyed their apartment and
short-circuited his Master
of Divinity studies in New
Collectively, this community
of believers—administrators,
faculty, staff, students and
their families—prepared a
new home in Graham Hall for
Cliff, Melissa and their young
sons, Joshua and Caleb,
stocking it with food, toys
and the household items they
would need. They came to
visit, prayed with them, and
helped Cliff get on with the
task of preparing for ministry.
“It was unbelievable,” Cliff says “The family here has been a tremendous
answer to prayer, and a blessing.”
The unexpected saga that led the Singletarys from their new home on the
campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary all the way to Mas-
sachusetts began on Friday, August 26, as Hurricane Katrina bore down on
the Gulf Coast.
“We were watching the weather,” Cliff recalls. “I think everyone on campus
was watching the weather. The storm was getting close and we were trying
to decide what to do.”
They prayed during the evening, and the next morning, Melissa woke the
family at 5 a.m. and said they needed to leave. Placing their important
keepsakes “up high” on their couch and beds, they packed their two young
sons into the family van, and set off at 6 a.m. for Cliff’s parents’ home in
Tallahassee, Florida.
“We just thought, we’ll get a couple of feet of water,” Cliff recalls. “We were
prepared for that. We had put things off the floor.”
Later that day, Cliff, received an email from the New Orleans Baptist Presi-
dent indicating that classes would be cancelled on Monday, and to return on
Tuesday. “I was all excited because I had something due on Monday. I had
an extra day to do the project!” Cliff says. On Monday morning, Katrina hit
New Orleans, and Cliff received another email, this time directing him to re-
port on Thursday. Better yet, he thought. More time to complete his project.
A few days later, as levies began breaking in New Orleans, Cliff says reality
began to sink in that they weren’t going back. “We got word from a student
at the seminary...and found out that our apartment was completely under
water. When we heard that, we knew there wasn’t anything there for us.”
Gone were the keepsakes—Bibles from childhood with notes in the margins,
photographs, blankets made by a grandmother—and all their furniture,
clothing and household items.
“The furniture and clothes you can get back,” Cliff comments. “But some
of the sentimental things—that’s hard. It’s literally like you walk out of your
house to go shopping at the store and you never come back.”
With much of the New Orleans seminary under water, Cliff and Melissa now
faced another reality: what to do next.
Before becoming a full-time student in summer 2005, Cliff had taken
classes at the New Orleans Baptist extension site in Florida, and had also
attended an intensive class on campus in January, taking his family with
him. “During this time, we felt like God was showing us that this was the
place where we were supposed to be. We went home and prayed heavily,
and we knew God was telling us to go to seminary full-time. So we planned
that. We started making preparations mentally, physically and spiritually.”
A few months later, Cliff quit his position at a Tallahassee newspaper; they
sold their home and gave away some of their belongings; and by July, the
family was living in New Orleans.
“That was a big change for us,” he explains. “We’d just gone from my work-
ing full-time to going to school full-time and looking for a part-time job. So
now we’d been there a month and a half (when Katrina hit), and we’re say-
ing, ‘What do we do? I just gave up my job. I just sold my house.’”
A friend who taught at another seminary suggested he look over that school,
so they packed up and moved again. “I actually enrolled in school,” Cliff
recounts. “I was there two weeks, and it just didn’t seem like that was what
God wanted. Classes were fine, but my family wasn’t happy.”
While Cliff was in school, Melissa was coping with living in an empty off-
campus apartment, and trying to figure out what to replace first. “I was
preparing myself to lose everything while we were in Tallahassee,” she
remembers. “But then to walk into the apartment and there’s nothing there,
that was overwhelming. And then going to the store, as a homemaker I was
overwhelmed as to where to start. What were the essential items?”
“At that point,” Cliff says, “I began looking at other seminaries. I figured
that this semester had already started, so we’d take our time to figure out
where God wanted us.”
One of his contacts was to Dr. Barry Corey, Gordon-Conwell Vice President
of Education and Academic Dean of the Hamilton campus. What Cliff didn’t
know was that at the recommendation of the President’s office, Barry had
already contacted his seminary in Louisiana, offering housing and tuition to
displaced students for the first year.
“Barry told us, ‘Come up now,’” Cliff recounts. “That was on a Thursday.
He told us if we decided to come, we had to be there by Monday, so we had
a short time to pray and think about it. As we prayed on Thursday night and
Friday, we felt like this was what God was working out, so we called Barry
and said ‘we’re coming.’ And Saturday morning, we got in the van and drove
here...It was really easy to get up and go, that part was real simple, because
we literally just didn’t have anything.”
Embarking on their fourth move in four months, the family arrived on cam-
pus Sunday afternoon, to be met by Campus Police Chief Mark Horvath.
“He really did a great job of making us feel welcome,” Cliff recalls. “Our
first impression of the campus was Mark, and it was a great one. Then we
got to our apartment, and Miss Jean (Rouse) and Miss Marietta (Mrs. Robert
Coleman) had this place livable—like a home. It floored us. We heard sto-
ries that they had worked all night on it. It’s hard to describe how you feel
when you walk in and see that someone had done so much to make you feel
welcome. It was really touching.”
Early Monday morning, Cliff received a call from Scott Poblenz, Assistant
Registrar, and together they worked out a tentative schedule. “He said, ‘Go
to class at 8 o’clock, then come see me and we’ll figure this out.’” The rest
of the day was a whirlwind as Cliff met and received the prayers of myriad
faculty and administrative staff, and eventually completed his schedule.
43 wi nt er 05/ 06
In Graham Hall, more than 100 people dropped by to welcome them. “It
was unbelievable,” he says. “One of the reasons we didn’t feel like God
wanted us (at the other seminary)...was because we were so isolated. We
didn’t have a campus where you were among other believers. We had that in
New Orleans and we really missed it.
“Here we have it, and it just seemed to kick into high gear when we arrived.
The family just went out of their way to meet every one of our needs—mate-
rial needs, friendship needs, everything we could think of.”
Melissa now attends a weekly women’s Bible study and a meeting for
seminary wives—the same activities she enjoyed in New Orleans. Cliff still
believes God called him to seminary, and considers their experience a bless-
ing to him as a future minister. Through their ordeal, they agree, their prayer
life has been enhanced 10-fold. “As for our marriage, it’s been enhanced,”
Melissa adds. “We’ve learned to trust each other at a different level.
“We didn’t doubt that the Lord would provide for us because we knew he’d
provide,” she says. “But we’ve been blessed beyond our belief. He’s not go-
ing to forsake us anywhere we go.
“We’ve lost everything, but we haven’t lost Him.”

Note: A second New Orleans Baptist student will be joining the Hamilton
community in January, and a third student will join the Charlotte campus,
also in January.
L. to r., IFOBA team members Peter Bradley, Kevin van Pelt, Freddy Boswell, Joseph
Owens, Gary Simons, Roberto Laver, Todd Johnson and GCTS student Bayarjarqal
Garamtseren from Mongolia.

IFOBA, Lausanne Team
Convene on Campus
A team from the International Forum of Bible Agencies (IFOBA)
met at the Hamilton campus in October to discuss how effective
they have been in distributing scriptures. This coalition of Bible
translation agencies strategically collaborates “so that the Word of
God may be globally available and used throughout the world.” A
major IFOBA report will be presented in Thailand April 4-7, 2006.
The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization also convened
its Operational Support Team on the Hamilton campus in August.
Rev. Doug Birdsall, Director of the seminary’s J. Christy Wilson, Jr.
Center for World Missions, is LCWE Executive Chair. The group met
to orient new members, and to coordinate operations in support of
its six working groups; its publications, including the new online
magazine Lausanne World Pulse, and the Younger Leaders Gather-
ing in Lumpur, Malaysia in September 2006.
By Howard Freeman
Is charitable giving “an investment?”
The Chronicle of Philanthropy,
among other sources, has noted in
recent years the movement toward
understanding one’s charitable gift
as an “investment.” We applaud
this distinction, because it brings
with it the mandate that the charity
must be accountable for the proper use of the gift. But it
is also important to define what we mean by “investment”
and what returns are to be expected. Effectiveness must
be judged through heavenly eyes.
To understand ministry effectiveness, we need look no
further than Jesus’ own earthly ministry, and its short- and
long-term impact. The Gospel accounts are replete not
only with Jesus’ successes but also with those who reject-
ed him: the rich young ruler, the nine lepers who failed
to return, Judas. Five minutes after Calvary, all who had
contributed might have considered – in human terms – to
have irrevocably lost all their “investment.” One thinks
of Joanna (Luke 8:3) and others, who had “invested” not
only money but time and sweat into the ministry.
At what historical point does one judge Christianity “suc-
cessful” and therefore a good “return on investment?”
Was it the first Easter Sunday? Pentecost? The establish-
ment of a state religion by Constantine? What criteria
should we use to structure our giving? Scripture has two
answers for us.
First, we give because God says we should (Mal. 3:10).
In fact, we should “test” the Lord in our giving, not only
testing our own ability to get along with less for ourselves
but also to test the Lord that giving toward His Kingdom
is a sound investment. Giving to one’s church is a non-
negotiable, even if it seems like a bad investment in hu-
man terms. We give out of obedience, and our happiness
comes from following the Lord.
Second, we give because we know the end of the story.
We know how the investment finally pays off. Anyone who
has read the Bible through to the last verse of Revelation
knows that giving money toward God’s ultimate purpose
is not only the safest investment; it’s the only investment
that will produce a return that lasts (Cf Matt. 6:19ff).
So how do we participate in obedient giving that pro-
duces a lasting return? Jesus was anointed by a woman
using costly perfume, an episode that was related in all
four Gospels (Matt 26, Mk 14, Lk 7, Jn 12), and an act
of such import that Jesus said, “wherever this gospel is
preached throughout the world, what she has done will
also be told, in memory of her.” Most certainly some of
the woman’s perfume spilled off Jesus’ feet onto the
ground. Her actions were misinterpreted by those present,
who regarded her gift as too lavish and unwise. And yet
Jesus commended her, because as she had been forgiven
much, she gave much. The giving was not about her but
about Him.
In light of Jesus’ mercy toward us, can our giving be any
less obedient, any less hilarious, any less lavish?
44 wi nt er 05/ 06
In Memoriam
Lark, Dr. Roger K, ‘70,
passed away on June 24,
2005. He is survived by
his wife of 51 years, Mary
A. Lark, and a brother and
Powell, Rev. J. William, ‘62,
retired from 43 years of
ministry in October, 2005.
He had served at churches
in Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Illinois and New
Brunswick, Canada.
Clark, John A., ‘73,
assumed the position of
Communications Specialist
at Columbia Theological
Seminary in Decatur,
GA. He is also involved
as a facilitator in a local
marketplace ministry
called Theology Café, and
has taught in the Lifelong
Learning program at Emory
University of Atlanta.
Pavelko, John H, ’75,
celebrated eight years
of being cancer free,
and received a Doctor of
Ministry degree from Fuller
Theological Seminary. The
dissertation was entitled,
Reforming the Reformed
Winter, Dr. Jeff, ‘76, is
Interim Pastor of St. Paul’s
Cultural Center in Antalya,
Turkey. He remains president
of a Presbyterian Church
(USA) renewal ministry,
One-by-One, that equips the
local church to reach out
to those who struggle with
homosexuality, pornography
and sexual abuse.
Herkelrath, Dr. William,
’77, is Dean of the Masters
of Psychology program
at Northwest University,
Kirkland, WA. This program
was developed four years ago
with an emphasis in cross
cultural studies and social
Harper, George W., ‘83, has
recently published a new
book, A People So Favored of
God: Boston’s Congregational
Churches and Their Pastors,
1710-1760, University Press
of America, and was also
named Professor of Christian
History and Theology
and Director of Doctoral
Studies at the Evangelical
Theological Seminary in
Osijek, Croatia.
Warren, II, Thomas S.,
’82, D.Min., ‘93, recently
published Dead Men Talking:
What Dying Teaches Us
About Living, (iuniverse).
In June 2005, he was
elected President of the
Advent Christian General
Conference, headquartered in
Charlotte, NC.
White, Daniel, ‘83, recently
returned from a year’s
deployment in Kosovo as a
United States Army Chaplain,
and is currently active duty
chaplain for the 9th Regional
Readiness Command, US
Army Reserve Pacific, in
Hawaii. His wife, Marilee, is
homeschooling three of their
four children.
Wright, Linda, ‘91, and
husband, Scott, are
expecting their seventh child
in April.
Mitchell, Chris, ’94, co-wrote
Development Department
Welcomes New Director
Erica Giovanniello has joined the Develop-
ment team as Director of Stewardship
In this capacity, she has responsibility for
fundraising initiatives related to the An-
nual Fund, Partnership Program and other capital projects, and
performs fundraising research, analysis, strategic planning and
Prior to joining the seminary staff, she served with a GE subsid-
iary, Electric Insurance Company, Beverly, Massachusetts, in po-
sitions within the Environmental Data & Analysis section ranging
from New Claims Specialist and Settlement Team Leader/Man-
ager, to her most recent position as Departmental Project Leader.
She also served with the same subsidiary as a Human Resource
Consultant, and with GE Capital Corporation in Stamford, Con-
necticut, and Aetna Life and Casualty in Middletown, Connecticut.
She holds a degree in Computer Information Systems and Man-
agement from Bentley College.
Erica is active at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, Massa-
chusetts, where she is on the Missions Board and Worship Team,
is a youth ministry leader and committee member, and has been
co-coordinator of the Vacation Bible School. She has also par-
ticipated in the church’s mission outreaches to Togo, Africa, and
Cochabamba, Bolivia. She is the mother of three: Erika, Chelsea
and Anthony.
Nominate a high school junior for Compass
The Compass Program at Gordon Conwell is currently accepting
applications for 2006.
Compass partners with local church pastors to identify young
people for future ministry. Each year, up to 40 high school juniors
are selected nationally from across the geographic and ethnic
spectrum, and participate in a Real Ministry Immersion during the
summer before their senior year. This month-long program includes
a wilderness experience, mission trip and introduction to theological
education by Gordon-Conwell faculty. Compass scholars then continue
in a four-year mentoring relationship with a pastor.
Originally funded by a Lilly Endowment grant, Compass is currently
raising funds to sustain the program. “Lilly has called Compass
‘the Cadillac’ of its programs,” states Kerry Luddy, Director of
Institutional Advancement—Compass. “With only seven percent of
pastors under age 35 today, Compass is a needed resource in raising
up young leaders with a passion to serve God.” For more information
about the program’s needs, please contact Kerry at 978.646.4031
or kluddy@gcts.edu.
To learn more about Compass, go to www.gordonconwell.edu/
ockenga/mccy. To apply, contact Julie Dillard at 978.646.4167 or
45 wi nt er 05/ 06
A Place for Skeptics with Scott Larson,
recently published by Regal Books.
Nance, Darrell Lee, ’98, is serving on
a new ministry field as Senior Pastor
of Kinza Memorial Baptist Church in
Stanfield, North Carolina, and completed
a Doctor of Ministry Degree program in
Pastoral Studies at Covington Theological
Seminary in Georgia.
Peake, Mark, ’98, recently moved to New
Jersey to serve as head of staff of the
Presbyterian Church of Pleasantville in
Pleasantville, New Jersey, and is also on
the board of directors of the Atlantic City
Presbyterian Mission Council.
Shriver, Andrew, ’98, had an ordination
council on Aug 25, in the CCCC. If
approved, he will be heading into the U.S.
Army Chaplaincy this January and will
be deployed next spring to either Iraq or
Gurtner, Dr. Daniel M., ’99, earned
a Ph.D. in New Testament from the
University of St Andrews, celebrated the
birth of his first child, Matthew (June 18,
2005), and accepted a job as Assistant
Professor of New Testament at Bethel
Seminary in St Paul, MN. He says, “GCTS
gave me a GREAT start!”
Smith, Dana, ‘99, his wife, Kristen
Lakutis Smith, ‘99, and their two sons,
Micah and Caleb, have returned to
Massachusetts after having served a
wonderful church in Pennsylvania for
six years. Dana is now the chaplain
at Lexington Christian Academy in
Lexington, MA.
Soh, Shin, ’99, joined the U.S. Air Force
as a chaplain in June 2005, and has been
assigned to Grand Forks Air Force Base in
North Dakota.
Pan, Ju-Ta, ’00, finished his Ph.D. study
at the University of Edinburgh and has
become the minister of the Chinese Bible
Church of Greater Boston.
Lesniewski, Sarah, ’01, and Jack
and Hannah have left the jungles of
Guatemala for the jungles of Chicago,
where Jack will be studying at the School
of Social Service Administration at the
University of Chicago.
Watson, Shaye, ’01, was married on June
25, 2005, to David C. Watson, and now
lives in northeast Baltimore County.
Carter, Jason. ’02, will graduate in
January 2006 with a Th.M. from
Princeton Theological Seminary. Jason
and Lisa (Faria, ’01) will also leave
in January to serve as missionaries
to Equatorial Guinea with WEC-
International, where they will teach at
a Bible school, training and equipping
pastors and leaders for the country.
Choong, Gary KG, ’02, is currently
pursuing a Ph.D. (Education
Administration) at Talbot School of
Theology, Biola University.
Davis, Joshua F., ’02, and Margaret
welcomed P.J. into their lives on May 9
of last year. Rev. Davis has been pastor
of the First Congregational Church of
Williamsburg (MA) for a little over a year.
Dowdell, Aaron, ’02, is employed as an
in-home clinician for a program directed
toward families with severely emotionally
disturbed children in Lexington, KY. He
has one son, Will, who will turn two in
Thomas, Amber, ’02, and her husband,
Joshua, were blessed with a baby girl,
Miriam Faith, on July 19, 2005. She
weighed 5 lbs., 13 oz. and was 18

inches long.
Cho, Dan, ’03, finished an S.T.M. at Yale
Divinity School in May and just started
as the executive director of the Veritas
Forum, a national organization seeking to
engage university students and faculty
in discussions about life’s hardest
questions and the relevance of Jesus
Christ to all of life.
Jumper, James, ’03, just entered his
first year of graduate school at Harvard,
studying the Hebrew Bible in the Near
Eastern Languages and Cultures Program.
He has three children: Michael (4), Elijah
(3), Nicholas (1), and one on the way.
LaPointe, Doug, ’03, has accepted a new
call, effective August 15, 2005, to First
Presbyterian Church in Stuart, Florida.
Vermilion, Jon, ’03, is pastoring an
English speaking multi-national church on
the French Riviera in the historic village
of St. Paul de Vence. His wife, Robin, gave
birth to their third child in October 2005.
Henry, Doug, ’04, and his wife, Hak, have
been serving as English Ministries Pastor
and Assistant at the 1st Full Gospel
Church of Tacoma in Washington State.
“We are a community church serving
families of Korean/American cultures with
military backgrounds.”
Lindsay, John P., ’04, was ordained
and installed as pastor of Riceville
Presbyterian Church (USA), Asheville,
North Carolina, in February, 2005.
Vincent, Bryan, ’05, is now Director
of Student Ministries at Colorado
Community Church in Denver, CO.
Are you receiving InCommunity,
our Alumni/ae email newsletter?
As an InCommunity subscriber, you’ll
receive brief monthly updates on
Gordon-Conwell faculty, programs and
upcoming opportunities for graduates.
To begin receiving InCommunity, contact
Michael Colaneri at 978.646.4064, or
Send Us Your News
Alumni/ae Notes helps keep you
connected with fellow grads. Please keep
us updated on your career changes, books
and articles you’ve written, new degrees,
family news and other items of interest.
Send news tips to editor@gcts.edu.
Know someone who would enjoy reading
Contact? Send us your referrals at
editor@gcts.edu and we’ll add them to
our mailing list.
Sabbatical for Pastors
The Lilly Endowment’s National Clergy
Renewal Program is now accepting appli-
cations. Congregations are awarded up to
$45,000 to design, with the pastor, a
Sabbath rest and renewal program. The
pastor must have a Master of Divinity de-
gree. According to Lilly, “both the pastor
and the congregation come away with
renewed appreciation and concern for
each other.” Go to http://www.gordoncon-
well.edu/alumni for more information.
46 wi nt er 05/ 06
Scientific study of the physical evidence
of past human societies recovered through
ARTIFACT An object produced by human
workmanship, such as a tool, weapon or orna-
ment of archaeological interest.
BASALT A hard, dense, dark, often glassy
volcanic rock.
developed by biblical scholars and archaeolo-
gists, who used stratigraphy and ceramic/pot-
tery typology to establish a reliable historical
framework from earliest times through the first
Christian century for the persons, events and
cultures of the Bible.
of changes in pottery styles.
HISTORIOGRAPHY The principles or method-
ology of historical study.
INSCRIPTION Letters or words engraved,
carved or printed on any surface.
LEVANT The Orient, especially the Near East.
OSTRACON A piece of ancient pottery on
which writing is found.
PAPYRUS A paper made from the pith or
stems of the papyrus, used as a writing mate-
rial in ancient times; also, a document written
on papyrus.
PHILOLOGY Historical linguistics.
SEMITIC LANGUAGES A subfamily of the
Afro-Asiatic language that includes Arabic,
Hebrew, Amharic and Aramaic.
SHARD (or Sherd) A piece of broken pottery
STELE An upright stone pillar that bears an
inscription, carving or design, and memorial-
izes a person, deity or event.
STRATIGRAPHY The reconstruction of the
history of the site, layer by layer, period by
period, studying debris left by successive oc-
cupants of the site.
TELL An artificial mound that was the site
of an ancient city. The mound can contain
centuries of accumulated debris, and stand
many meters high.
TOPOGRAPY Surveying the features of a
region or place.
TYPOLOGY The study of types, as in system-
atic classification.
ZOOMORPHIC Symbolic, literary or graphic
representation of animal forms; also, attribu-
tion of animal characteristics to a deity.
1 Some material for this article is taken from Dr.
Stuart’s forthcoming commentary (spring 2006)
on Exodus in the New American Commentary series
published by Broadman and Holman.
2 That Philistia was considered to be right on the
border between Canaan and Egypt is indicated by the
wording of Gen 26:1-2, wherein God allows Isaac to
go only as far as “Abimelech, king of the Philistines”
and is told not to go further by the words “Do not go
down to Egypt, . . . stay in this land,” implying that
to go further south past Philistia (Gerar, specifically)
would be to enter Egyptian territory.
3 Indeed, not until David’s day did Israel dominate
the Philistines. Thus it would hardly have been
possible for the Israelites to beat them in a straight
match-up a few weeks out of Egypt.
4 In Ramses III’s eighth year the Egyptians claimed
to have turned back an onslaught of Philistine groups
trying to invade Egypt proper, according to the
Medinet Habu inscriptions at Thebes. Some came
by sea; others by land. According to the texts, “Their
confederation was the Philistines, Tjeker, Shekelesh,
Denyen, and Weshesh, land united. They laid their
hands upon the lands as far as the circuit of the
earth, their hearts confident and trusting: ‘Our plans
will succeed!’” (ANET 262). In other words, the five
groups known collectively by the name of their most
prominent people group (the Philistines) constituted
a formidable fighting force. In the same text is also
found the statement: “No land could stand before
their arms,” a fairly clear assessment of Philistine
military prowess.
5 The Merneptah Stela is also sometimes called the
“Israel Stela” because of its mention of Israel as a
people living in Canaan but apparently not yet in full
control of it. It is dated to the fifth year of Merneptah
(about 1230 B.C.), and its claim that the Egyptians
in some vague way pacified the Israelites is stylized in
the sort of way that suggests little historical reliability.
The actual statement about the Israelites is “Israel is
laid waste, his seed is not.” (ANET 378). No actual
military encounter with the Israelites is mentioned.
Naturally, the Pharaoh’s claim to have subdued all
of Canaan would be expected to include at least a pro
forma boast that Israel was among the groups now
under the Egyptian thumb. What is especially relevant
to our discussion about the stela is its designation of
Israel—alone among the national groups mentioned—
as a people group rather than as a country/nation.
This would seem to confirm its reputation, at least
as far as the Egyptians were concerned, as a “small
potatoes” foe.
6 It was under David’s leadership, ca. 1000 B.C.,
that the Philistines were permanently subdued
(2 Sam 8:1; 21:15-22; cf. 1 Kings 4:21).
7 Indeed, Bernard Bachra (“Structural Regularities
in the Story of the Passage Through the Sea (Exod
13,17-22 and Exod 14),” SJOT 16 [2002], 246-
263) points out that the entire unit of text from
13:17 through the end of ch 14 is united by a
number of concentric patterns that show that it is not
an editorial composite from disparate sources but a
coherent composition. Thus, already what 13:16 ff.
is talking about prepares the reader for what ch 14
8 Josiah Derby, “The Miracle at the Red Sea.” JBQ
20 (1991-92) 250-55.
9 On this route, see also vv 20, ff. Ferdinand Re-
galado (“The Location of the Sea the Israelites Passed
Through,” Journal of the Adventist Theological So-
ciety 13 [1, 2002], 115-134) suggests that the sea
through which the Israelites passed was one of the
lakes now incorporated into the Suez canal district,
i.e., either Lake Timsah or Lake Ballah but not the
Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea itself. Our position is that
the sea was indeed the Red Sea, but it is not impos-
sible that the lakes of the Suez region were loosely
included in the Hebrew term yam suph in Bible times.
10 As in Exod 18:21, 25; Deut 1:15.
11 Later, archery was more frequently used (Josh
24:12; 1 Sam 18:4; 2 Chron 26:14 et al); while
spear throwing remained rare (1 Sam 13:22) and
slinging became more common (Judg 20:16; 2 Chron
Recommended Reading on Biblical Archaeology
Amnon Ben-Tor, (ed.), The Archaeology of Ancient Israel.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.
A.J. Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998.
Philip J. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah: An Archaeological
Commentary. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press,
Philip J. King, Jeremiah: An Archaeological Companion.
Louisville, KY: Westminster-John Knox Press, 1993.

W. Harold Mare, The Archaeology of the Jerusalem Area.
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.
Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible. New
York: Doubleday, 1990.

J. McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991.
A. Millard, Treasures from Bible Times. Belleville, MI:
Lion, 1985.
A. Millard, Discoveries from the Time of Jesus. Batavia, IL:
Lion, 1990.
Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology
Reveals About the Truth of the Bible. Eugene, OR: Harvest
House, 1997.
Keith N. Schoville, Biblical Archaeology in Focus. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978.
Recommended Subscriptions
Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), Biblical Archaeology
Society, Washington, DC, www.bib-arch.org
Bible and Spade, Associates for Biblical Research, Akron,
PA, www.Biblearchaeology.org.

47 wi nt er 05/ 06
Haddon W. Robinson, Ph.D.
I I Ti mot hy 4: 9, 13
Dr. Haddon W. Robinson, Harold John Ockenga
Distinguished Professor of Preaching, Gor-
don-Conwell Theological Seminary, is widely
recognized as an expert on biblical communica-
tion, and has been named one of the 12 most
effective preachers in the English-speaking
world. A contributing editor for Preaching, and a
Fellow and Senior Editor for Christianity Today,
Dr. Robinson is a prolific writer who contributes
regularly to Our Daily Bread, and has written for publications such
as Leadership, Christianity Today, Bibliotheca Sacra and Decision.
He has authored seven books, including Biblical Preaching, used
by 120 seminaries and Bible colleges worldwide. He is also lead
teacher of the radio program Discover the Word that airs 300 times
daily on stations around the world.
What a person facing death considers important
reveals what matters in their life. That’s why
Paul’s words at the end of his final letter
are worth noticing. “Do your best to come to
me quickly,” Paul writes to his young associate,
Timothy. “When you come, bring the cloak I
left with Carpus at Troas and my scrolls, espe-
cially the parchments” (II Tim. 4:9, 13).
Paul sits chained in the Mamartine dungeon.
Ahead looms a bone-chilling winter and a vio-
lent death. In that stress-filled hour Paul asks
Timothy for things vital to his existence. First,
he needs friends. The apostle possessed rich
spiritual resources and knew the presence of his
risen Lord, but he needed friends. Of course, he
valued the presence of his doctor, Luke, but he
urges Timothy to leave his ministry in Ephesus
and come to him. He also asked for Mark to
come as well. At times of crisis, nothing takes
the place of the presence of good friends.
Then there was the cloak, probably a travel-
ing coat with long sleeves. That coat had been
soaked with the brine of the Aegean Sea, yel-
lowed with the dust of the Ignatian Way, and
wet with the snows of Galatia and Pamphilia,
and it was stained red with the blood of his
beatings. Now, Paul needed that cloak again to
keep his aged body from the sword-like thrusts
of the winter cold.
The winter would be long and cold, and the
apostle needed also to engage his mind and feed
his spirit. So, he asked for his books. Paul
was not a man of one book but of many. What
an intriguing request! Here sits a man who
wrote 13 of the inspired letters of the New
Testament, but he still needed to learn from the
writings of ordinary men. Never again would
he preach a sermon nor would he write another
inspired letter. Yet, he still felt the need to read
and study.
Charles Spurgeon caught the significance of this
request. “Even an apostle must read. He is in-
spired and yet he wants books. He has seen the
Lord and yet he wants books. . . He has been
caught up into the third heaven and had heard
things which it was unlawful for a man to utter,
yet he wants his books.”
“What kind of person do you pity most?” some-
one asked Benjamin Franklin. Franklin replied,
“A lonesome man on a rainy day who does not
know how to read.” He might have answered,
“A lonely apostle in a dungeon without some
books to read.”
Above all, of course Paul wanted his parch-
ments, probably his own personal copies of Old
Testament books. He had carried them, studied
them, and memorized them. Yet he wanted
them in his hands again so that they could
comfort him and keep his perspective eternal.
A few months, or perhaps weeks, after Paul
penned these words, guards dragged him from
the dungeon and took him outside the city
wall. He bowed his head and the executioner’s
sword flashed in the sunlight, and Paul went to
be with Christ.
At his death, Paul’s example speaks to us.
“Read good books, and the Best Book,”
it says. “Choose them carefully, and read them
thoughtfully.” ´

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