Obituary

In Memory of Hershel Shanks

The Biblical Archaeology Society remembers the life and achievements of Biblical Archaeology Review’s founder and Editor Emeritus, Hershel Shanks, who passed away February 5, 2021 at the age of 90.

In 1974, Hershel envisioned BAR, creating a modest publication that reflected his deep personal interest in the biblical past. Over the following four decades, until his retirement in 2017, he transformed BAR into the world’s best-selling and most widely read biblical archaeology magazine, enjoyed by millions. He was firmly committed to making the latest archaeological discoveries—and scholarly controversies—accessible to the broader public, through well-written, beautifully presented, and engaging content that brought the biblical world to life. BAS is honored to carry on the tremendous legacy left to us by our friend, colleague, and mentor, Hershel Shanks.

Hershel Shanks: March 8, 1930—Feb 5, 2021

We have collected reflections on Hershel’s legacy from some of his colleagues and dear friends. Many of these originally appeared in Festschrift: A Celebration of Hershel Shanks, the special double issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, published in 2018. Please enjoy these memories and celebrate Hershel’s contributions to the fields of biblical archaeology and biblical studies.

Additionally, you can read his obituaries in The Washington Post and  The New York Times.

In the Giant’s Shadow
Susan Laden
Biblical Archaeology Society

A Man for the People
Christopher Rollston
The George Washington University

Born in Our Living Room
Eric and Carol Meyers
Duke University

Larger than Life
Eric H. Cline
The George Washington University

The Archaeological Evangelist
Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt University

The Face of BAR
André Lemaire
École Pratique des Hautes Études at the Sorbonne University

Scaling Ivory Towers
Alan Millard
University of Liverpool

Unwavering and Obstreperous
William G. Dever
University of Arizona

Hershel Shanks: In Memorium
John Merrill
Biblical Archaeology Society

A Showstopping Act
Robert R. Cargill
University of Iowa

The full festschrift is available and open to read, in the BAS Library.

ma-mj-2018

Some of Hershel Shanks’s major campaigns and archaeological explorations are highlighted on the cover of BAR, March/April May/June 2018.

Hershel Shanks founded the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1974 and published the first issue of Biblical Archaeology Review in 1975. He served as the editor of BAR until his retirement in 2017. In the very first issue, Hershel wrote, “The aim of The Biblical Archaeology Review is to make available in understandable language the current insights of professional archaeology as they relate to the Bible.” In his 43 years as editor, he did not deviate from this mission.

Hershel’s family requests that donations in memory of Hershel be made to the Biblical Archaeology Society.

Please share your memories of Hershel in the comments section below.


46 Responses

  1. Roger Bailey says:

    Thanks Hershel. I always looked forward to reading the BAR issues. Your career path was a blessing for my life.

  2. Scott Bradbury says:

    I’m saddened to hear, loved his feisty dialog and reading the letters to him and his answers. Will not be replicated.

  3. lawrence e paige says:

    I never met him personally but am thankful he walked among us

  4. Steve Fankuchen says:

    I “knew” Shanks only through B.A.R. and an occasional reference to him elsewhere. However, that in itself singled him out as truly exceptional in a positive sense. Much like I.F. Stone, Shanks not only had a vision but, much more significantly, transferred that vision into a journalistic tour de force, in the process filling a void others were too reticent to take on.

    What hooked me on B.A.R. was Shanks integrity, his devotion to genuine dialogue. While he encouraged strong opinions, including his own, he equally encouraged intelligent disagreement, which is why I began each new issue of the magazine reading the letters-to-the-editor.

    Unlike in the current internet era of free, instantaneous, ubiquitous, oxymoronic “alternative facts”, there was huge cost, intellectual, emotional, and personal, as well as financial, in starting a magazine, especially one that was not designed primarily as a commercial vehicle. One did not start a project such as B.A.R. knowing the difficulties. Instead, one said, “This is what I want to do”, and accepted that you would, and hopefully could, deal with problems and consequences as they arose. It wasn’t about instant gratification but about doing the right thing, about understanding that there was no free lunch, that to make the world a better place involved personal risk and, consequently, a willingness to sacrifice.

    Not only his memory, but the fruits of Hershel Shanks heart and labors shall also truly live for a blessing !

    I must acknowledge one regret: I never sent my words of appreciation to Shanks when he could see them. While lauded by NAMES (as is evident here), he seemed to be the unusual individual who wanted to make a difference, wanted to challenge, wanted to engage those of us who were not NAMES, not credentialed. He wanted to enlist everyone in the passion of his calling, and in that he succeeded admirably.

  5. Steve Segal says:

    My interest in Biblical Archaeology owes itself to Hershel’s far sighted creation of BAR. When I first met him at one of the ‘Fests” I was struck by how friendly and approachable and accepting he was. We have lost a giant.

  6. I counted Hershel as a friend, although most of our contact was through email or telephone — and the occasional glimpse in the hallways at annual SBL meetings. I enjoyed reading BAR (and its predecessor) from the start, and passing issues along to friends with similar interests. The world(s) of “biblical scholarship” have lost a major promoter and popularizer, and is/are less vibrant for it. Farewell, Hershel; we will miss you.

  7. Frank Vrba says:

    I never knew him personally but I felt like I did through all his columns and comments. I don’t think a greater friend to the field of Biblical archeology has ever lived. My faith has been deepened by the many years of reading BAR. I am saddened to know you left this life but as a Christian, I am gladdened to know you have gone to a better one. Thank you.

  8. Michael S. Hong says:

    Miss you so much that I can not hear your name as often as I used to hear anymore. Ever since I left religious college the most exciting magazine that ever encountered on bookshelves out in the open. Subscription started then on until now, and probably last until my days will meet The almighty and it isn’t that far , brother. I did really envied your gutsy style as a publisher and showed me that you wanted cover people of all walks of trade, and also of those with various sects of religious backgrounds. I’ll miss you and wishing your sprit remain guiding BAR for ever more.

  9. Stephen J Balga says:

    I first came across Herschel Shanks with the December 1975 issue. It featured an extensive article of the Temple Mount Dig in Jerusalem, Israel. I had just returned from Jerusalem to the US in January 1976 to return to college. I had worked on that dig since June of 1975. Reading through the article was a picture of the Herodian building site we had been excavating. Ironically I had taken an identical picture in December before I left. I was hooked on BAR after that and subscribed. I have been a subscriber ever since. Mr. Shanks magazine cut through the veil of secrecy that had clouded so much of archaeology what with the reluctance of archaeologists to publish their findings. How he braved the fury of the Dead Sea Scroll community by “outing” the scrolls was amazing. He was never one to shrink from controversy. I was and am so grateful to him through BAR in keeping me in the loop of the field of study I so love. I will miss him and am glad his legacy lives on in BAR.

  10. Frank L Bresee says:

    I was a subscriber to BAR for over twenty years and just recently decided ti renew the opportunity to read my favourite magazine about biblical archeology and related articles about new discoveries and ongoing commentary about the study of the Old Testament. It was BAR that kept my passion alive and eager to continue. The diversity,
    quality, and content of the articles was incomparable.
    To the family, and staff at BAR, please accept my sincere condolences.

  11. It was deeply sad to read of Hershel’s passing. He was so uniquely fitted to lead the BAS and BAR for more than four decades that it is hard to grasp that he is gone. Obviously, no one can completely fill the role that he created, born of his irrepressible enthusiasm for biblical archaeology and driven to continual achievements. New leadership can only hope to grow in that direction, as he did.

    I warmly support your resilient response, to build on his legacy. In that way, his memory can reach its fullest potential to be a blessing.

    In my case, it was his bold challenge to push my research beyond my self-imposed limits that was key to my own growth. I had kept my published diss., conference papers, and publications carefully limited only to certain time periods, only to certain parts of the Bible, and only to inscriptions in certain languages. So when he phoned me “out of the blue” in January 2013 to invite me to write “an article,” I retreated to these “safe” limits.

    I will never forget Hershel’s instant reply. With stunning boldness he asked: “Why don’t you just cover the whole Bible?”

    At first, my response was shocked silence. As we talked, however, I began to see how it could be done. As you are thoroughly aware, the “article” has multiplied. It was Hershel who gave me my research agenda for years to come. I will always be grateful to God for him, for his pivotal challenge, and for his encouragement.

  12. Steve Fankuchen says:

    I “knew” Shanks only through B.A.R. and an occasional reference to him elsewhere. However, that in itself singled him out as truly exceptional in a positive sense. Much like I.F. Stone, Shanks not only had a vision but, much more significantly, transferred that vision into a journalistic tour de force, in the process filling a void others were too reticent to take on.

    What hooked me on B.A.R. was Shanks integrity, his devotion to genuine dialogue. While he encouraged strong opinions, including his own, he equally encouraged intelligent disagreement, which is why I began each new issue of the magazine reading the letters-to-the-editor.

    Unlike in the current internet era of free, instantaneous, ubiquitous, oxymoronic “alternative facts”, there was huge cost, intellectual, emotional, and personal, as well as financial, in starting a magazine, especially one that was not designed primarily as a commercial vehicle. One did not start a project such as B.A.R. knowing the difficulties. Instead, one said, “This is what I want to do”, and accepted that you would, and hopefully could, deal with problems and consequences as they arose. It wasn’t about instant gratification but about doing the right thing, about understanding that there was no free lunch, that to make the world a better place involved personal risk and, consequently, a willingness to sacrifice.

    Not only his memory, but the fruits of Hershel Shanks heart and labors shall also truly live for a blessing !

    I must acknowledge one regret: I never sent my words of appreciation to Shanks when he could see them. While lauded by NAMES (as is evident here), he seemed to be the unusual individual who wanted to make a difference, wanted to challenge, wanted to engage those of us who were not NAMES, not credentialed. He wanted to enlist everyone in the passion of his calling, and in that he succeeded admirably.

  13. Lee Gaffrey says:

    My interest in Biblical Archaeology Review goes back to 1990. I enjoyed reading BAR and particularly Hershel Shanks’ involvement and leadership in presenting such an excellent coverage of happenings in Israel archaeology. It was by reading the “dig” issue in 1997 that finally convinced me that I needed to be involved in a “dig” in Israel. I selected the Bethsaida Excavation Project as the one to bring me into the mystery and excitement of Israel archaeology. I experienced four wonderful seasons with this Project.

  14. Mark Ross says:

    Of particular importance in Mr. Shanks’ and BAR’s success would be their courageous involvement in the controversy over the Dead Sea Scrolls … which had, up to then, been monopolized by a lone scholar of dubious affinity for Israel and its people.

  15. Jimmy Nammour says:

    May his good old memory be eternal &let him rest in the peace of the Lord

  16. Barbara Chozahinoff says:

    I have been a subscriber for twenty years, and I have kept every issue, except one, which I gave to my rabbi. His comment to me was that I became elevated in his eyes for reading such a special interest magazine. As an ex=’aliyahnik”, I loved every story. I followed every contraversy about publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls, or how to interpret B.C. and B.C.E., and how to discover forgeries, and personal ‘hits’ on Hershel’s scholarship, etc.

  17. Cynthia Burdge MD says:

    Eric Clines Keynote speech at ASOR 2019 was the importance of professional archeologists writing for the general public. He cited Herschel and BAR as an excellent vehicle that disseminates factual information that illuminates
    the Biblical era. He also noted that when his mother was visiting, the only thing she was excited about was that she was going to meet Herschel! Reading BAR has had a major impact on my retired life: It led me to BAR sponsored
    Study-Travel trips, where I got to interact on a daily basis with knowledgeable scholars, attending Biblical Archeology Fest, and ultimately joining ASOR as a nonprofessional member and attending its annual meeting. At the first one, 8 talks were on sites in Anatolia. Because of BAS trips, I had previously been to all of them.
    So Herschel, mahalo nui loa.

  18. R. Peter DeLong says:

    Hershel never did make it through all the questions that were presented at the panel discussions at the BibleFest banquet each year. Now he has the time and wherewithal to get all those questions answered. God bless you, Hershel. We will miss you.

  19. Elisabet A says:

    I am an “ordinary reader” who has enjoyed reading BAR for the last 20 years or so, and I have come to admire the enduring enthusiasm for combining the knowledge of archaeology and Biblical knowledge which has been so prominent in Hershel Shanks’ publications; also, the refreshing openness in theological matters, showing equal respect to all religions and their different views of the world we live in. He has created an important legacy for professionals as well as laymen and -women. Thank you Mr Shanks!

  20. Robert Biddle says:

    From a very early age my ambition was to be an archaeologist in the Holy Land. My life didn’t turn in that direction but through the pages of Mr. Shanks’ publication. I felt that I got very close. With my sincere gratitude. R I P

  21. Paula Zurcher says:

    I have taught Bible study for 38 years and been to Israel 3 times, twice with a Jewish group and once with Christian group. Each time I have learned to admire Hershel Shanks for his understanding of all archaeology, humna faiths, hopes and struggles. I regret his passing, he was far too young (I myself am 93).

  22. Emanuel Jacov ban Gerar says:

    Thank you. Hershel, for your life long commitment and passion with BAR. My condolences to your family and friends. May the Lord bless you and keep you until we meet again.

  23. Margaret Obrecht says:

    MY subscription goes back decades and I can recall no issue which was not provocative, fascinating, and even humorous on occasion. But what stands out above all, is the way Hershel handled furious notes or contradictory ones. He was gracious, went back to check the facts as each had been presented, and wrote either a correction with thanks ora solid, but tactful response, if the writer had been wrong.

  24. Bob Armintor says:

    I have been a subscriber to BAR for years, and have enjoyed the magazine as well as the editorials penned by Hershel. He will be missed.

  25. Waldo N says:

    Honor to those who deserve the honor, and Mr. Shanks’ legacy BAR and BR, deserve to be honored. My condolences to his family and to BAR team.

  26. Patrick Solomon Kovacs says:

    Hershel Shanks (1930-2021) a pioneer in bringing archaeology to the public. May we honor his memory and may God comfort his family and friends and all who mourn his passing.

  27. Dennis and Donna Bitterman says:

    We’ve been taking BAR since 1978. He seems as a family member. May YAHWEH be with him at the Resurrection.

  28. Tom Barksdale says:

    i am an average non-scholar reader of Biblical Archaeology Review. Hershel Shanks is one of my heroes. I don’t rememv=ber exactly when I started reading BAR (or Bible Review, during its existence), but I was hooked from the start. I obviously had an existing interest in Biblical studies, but BAR whetted my appetite for more. I look forward to the magazine’s arrival with keen anticipation- and use the BAS website frequently. Just about everything I know about the Bible derives from the Review, the website, and the refernces they have provided to other expert authors, scholars, articles, and books.

  29. Ralph Zicherman says:

    He was a man before his time and saw biblical archaeology with an interest beyond the trained scholars.

  30. Greg Stanford says:

    I’m sorry to read of Mr. Shanks’ passing. I will always be appreciated of his creation of BAR that gave me a peek into the world of biblical archaeology. It had been a high school dream to become an archaeologist that apparently wasn’t o be, but the knowledge has been impactful in my ministry to children in my local church. Thankful for the legacy he leaves and prayerful for his family and friends.

  31. Charles Folz says:

    My spouse put me in touch with BAR through her university studies of religion. I have enjoyed the publication and Hershel’s editorials for some years. He will be missed!

  32. Todd Hausler says:

    Mr. Shanks will be missed. He meant a lot to me and I regret his passing, but celebrate his being home with the Lord. We shall encounter him again. Blessings. He ran a good course

  33. Rene says:

    I am very grateful he started BAR and have enjoyed reading it for the last several years. I am grateful to all who work on it. I have learned as much and it is very fascinating! May God bless you and keep you and may he bless Hershel’s family and friends as well! Thank you all!

  34. Randy McCracken says:

    Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting Hershel, I feel his loss keenly. Those of us who love biblical archaeology owe him a great debt. He made archaeology accessible to the common person. He was a fighter for what he believed in and he felt like a friend as he communicated through his editorials and articles. He will be greatly missed. My prayers are with his family and friends.

  35. David L. Bozarth says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Hershel Shanks. I first came across BAR in the late 1980’s as I was endeavoring to understand the greater context of the Bible. Through his work and his efforts my life has been enriched, enlightened, and I’ve become more knowledgeable. Often in conversations or classes. I mention something found in the pages of BAR to which the common reply has been, “where did you find that?” Well, Mr. Shanks’ vision has been fulfilled in my life and I will be forever grateful.

    To the family I send my condolences, my thoughts, and my prayers. May the One who creates peace bring peace to you in this time. May Hershel Shanks’ name and memory be a blessing, now and in the days to come,

  36. Christopher says:

    Memory Eternal

  37. Tim Ryan says:

    My condolences to the Shanks family and also to the BAS family. I worked there for one year in 2005 and had the privilege to speak with Mr. Shanks a number of times. It was clear from the dedication of his staff that they believed in the mission of BAR and held Hershel in high esteem. 250,000 subscribers is quite a rare accomplishment, but his legacy will clearly be the emancipation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  38. David Christian Clausen says:

    Hershel Shanks was a true leader in the effort to bring the discoveries of modern scholarship and archaeology to the amateur student of the Biblical world. He brought many top-flight scholars together to help with this wider dissemination of the exciting new insights made in our field. Mr. Shanks published my first article for BAR and helped me share the fruits of my labor as well. He will be missed.

  39. Stephen Schmitt says:

    Have been reading and learning from BAR for more than 30 years, Thank You, Hershel Shanks.

  40. Patricia Keenan says:

    While growing up & being raised in the Catholic Faith I always believed there were questions for me not being answered by the Church. Then I found BAR and Hershel Shanks. He helped to open my eyes and see that questions do have answers if you know where to look. Thank you Mr. Shanks for sharing the light.

  41. Patrick Levy says:

    I feel very sad. A long time BAR subscriber, I owe Hershel my avid interest in biblical archaeology. He shared his passion with enthusiasm, honesty and a constant open mind. In so doing, he not only helped a broad audience understand better Israel’s history but also created more identity awareness among many Jews. Thank you very much to you, Hershel. RIP.
    Sincere condolences to his family.

  42. I’m so very sorry to hear of Hershel’s passing. I have his fascinating book on Jerusalem and treasure the gift he gave us all with his encyclopaedic knowledge of Biblical history. Thinking of his family at this difficult time and sending them my my deepest condolences. May his memory be a blessing. to them.

  43. Patrick Tilton says:

    The 1st issue of BAR was the ground floor of an edifice that is still being constructed, and which will always scrape the sky. Newcomers to it will fly like birds onto its latest roof-like floor and discover its many-layered history as they descend towards its ground floor to encounter Hershel’s legacy. Unlike the Babel tower, the BAR tower will keep on being built, reaching into the heavens.

  44. MB says:

    Sending sincere condolences to his family.

  45. Nate Ingle says:

    I’ve enjoyed BAR since I started reading in 2006. I am so sorry to hear of his passing, as he seemed to be a real genuine guy who loved archaeology, the Bible, and educating people of both. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and those he impacted. May we continue by building on his legacy to educate.

  46. Sourav says:

    Hershel Shanks was a great man. He will be remembered..

Write a Reply or Comment

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46 Responses

  1. Roger Bailey says:

    Thanks Hershel. I always looked forward to reading the BAR issues. Your career path was a blessing for my life.

  2. Scott Bradbury says:

    I’m saddened to hear, loved his feisty dialog and reading the letters to him and his answers. Will not be replicated.

  3. lawrence e paige says:

    I never met him personally but am thankful he walked among us

  4. Steve Fankuchen says:

    I “knew” Shanks only through B.A.R. and an occasional reference to him elsewhere. However, that in itself singled him out as truly exceptional in a positive sense. Much like I.F. Stone, Shanks not only had a vision but, much more significantly, transferred that vision into a journalistic tour de force, in the process filling a void others were too reticent to take on.

    What hooked me on B.A.R. was Shanks integrity, his devotion to genuine dialogue. While he encouraged strong opinions, including his own, he equally encouraged intelligent disagreement, which is why I began each new issue of the magazine reading the letters-to-the-editor.

    Unlike in the current internet era of free, instantaneous, ubiquitous, oxymoronic “alternative facts”, there was huge cost, intellectual, emotional, and personal, as well as financial, in starting a magazine, especially one that was not designed primarily as a commercial vehicle. One did not start a project such as B.A.R. knowing the difficulties. Instead, one said, “This is what I want to do”, and accepted that you would, and hopefully could, deal with problems and consequences as they arose. It wasn’t about instant gratification but about doing the right thing, about understanding that there was no free lunch, that to make the world a better place involved personal risk and, consequently, a willingness to sacrifice.

    Not only his memory, but the fruits of Hershel Shanks heart and labors shall also truly live for a blessing !

    I must acknowledge one regret: I never sent my words of appreciation to Shanks when he could see them. While lauded by NAMES (as is evident here), he seemed to be the unusual individual who wanted to make a difference, wanted to challenge, wanted to engage those of us who were not NAMES, not credentialed. He wanted to enlist everyone in the passion of his calling, and in that he succeeded admirably.

  5. Steve Segal says:

    My interest in Biblical Archaeology owes itself to Hershel’s far sighted creation of BAR. When I first met him at one of the ‘Fests” I was struck by how friendly and approachable and accepting he was. We have lost a giant.

  6. I counted Hershel as a friend, although most of our contact was through email or telephone — and the occasional glimpse in the hallways at annual SBL meetings. I enjoyed reading BAR (and its predecessor) from the start, and passing issues along to friends with similar interests. The world(s) of “biblical scholarship” have lost a major promoter and popularizer, and is/are less vibrant for it. Farewell, Hershel; we will miss you.

  7. Frank Vrba says:

    I never knew him personally but I felt like I did through all his columns and comments. I don’t think a greater friend to the field of Biblical archeology has ever lived. My faith has been deepened by the many years of reading BAR. I am saddened to know you left this life but as a Christian, I am gladdened to know you have gone to a better one. Thank you.

  8. Michael S. Hong says:

    Miss you so much that I can not hear your name as often as I used to hear anymore. Ever since I left religious college the most exciting magazine that ever encountered on bookshelves out in the open. Subscription started then on until now, and probably last until my days will meet The almighty and it isn’t that far , brother. I did really envied your gutsy style as a publisher and showed me that you wanted cover people of all walks of trade, and also of those with various sects of religious backgrounds. I’ll miss you and wishing your sprit remain guiding BAR for ever more.

  9. Stephen J Balga says:

    I first came across Herschel Shanks with the December 1975 issue. It featured an extensive article of the Temple Mount Dig in Jerusalem, Israel. I had just returned from Jerusalem to the US in January 1976 to return to college. I had worked on that dig since June of 1975. Reading through the article was a picture of the Herodian building site we had been excavating. Ironically I had taken an identical picture in December before I left. I was hooked on BAR after that and subscribed. I have been a subscriber ever since. Mr. Shanks magazine cut through the veil of secrecy that had clouded so much of archaeology what with the reluctance of archaeologists to publish their findings. How he braved the fury of the Dead Sea Scroll community by “outing” the scrolls was amazing. He was never one to shrink from controversy. I was and am so grateful to him through BAR in keeping me in the loop of the field of study I so love. I will miss him and am glad his legacy lives on in BAR.

  10. Frank L Bresee says:

    I was a subscriber to BAR for over twenty years and just recently decided ti renew the opportunity to read my favourite magazine about biblical archeology and related articles about new discoveries and ongoing commentary about the study of the Old Testament. It was BAR that kept my passion alive and eager to continue. The diversity,
    quality, and content of the articles was incomparable.
    To the family, and staff at BAR, please accept my sincere condolences.

  11. It was deeply sad to read of Hershel’s passing. He was so uniquely fitted to lead the BAS and BAR for more than four decades that it is hard to grasp that he is gone. Obviously, no one can completely fill the role that he created, born of his irrepressible enthusiasm for biblical archaeology and driven to continual achievements. New leadership can only hope to grow in that direction, as he did.

    I warmly support your resilient response, to build on his legacy. In that way, his memory can reach its fullest potential to be a blessing.

    In my case, it was his bold challenge to push my research beyond my self-imposed limits that was key to my own growth. I had kept my published diss., conference papers, and publications carefully limited only to certain time periods, only to certain parts of the Bible, and only to inscriptions in certain languages. So when he phoned me “out of the blue” in January 2013 to invite me to write “an article,” I retreated to these “safe” limits.

    I will never forget Hershel’s instant reply. With stunning boldness he asked: “Why don’t you just cover the whole Bible?”

    At first, my response was shocked silence. As we talked, however, I began to see how it could be done. As you are thoroughly aware, the “article” has multiplied. It was Hershel who gave me my research agenda for years to come. I will always be grateful to God for him, for his pivotal challenge, and for his encouragement.

  12. Steve Fankuchen says:

    I “knew” Shanks only through B.A.R. and an occasional reference to him elsewhere. However, that in itself singled him out as truly exceptional in a positive sense. Much like I.F. Stone, Shanks not only had a vision but, much more significantly, transferred that vision into a journalistic tour de force, in the process filling a void others were too reticent to take on.

    What hooked me on B.A.R. was Shanks integrity, his devotion to genuine dialogue. While he encouraged strong opinions, including his own, he equally encouraged intelligent disagreement, which is why I began each new issue of the magazine reading the letters-to-the-editor.

    Unlike in the current internet era of free, instantaneous, ubiquitous, oxymoronic “alternative facts”, there was huge cost, intellectual, emotional, and personal, as well as financial, in starting a magazine, especially one that was not designed primarily as a commercial vehicle. One did not start a project such as B.A.R. knowing the difficulties. Instead, one said, “This is what I want to do”, and accepted that you would, and hopefully could, deal with problems and consequences as they arose. It wasn’t about instant gratification but about doing the right thing, about understanding that there was no free lunch, that to make the world a better place involved personal risk and, consequently, a willingness to sacrifice.

    Not only his memory, but the fruits of Hershel Shanks heart and labors shall also truly live for a blessing !

    I must acknowledge one regret: I never sent my words of appreciation to Shanks when he could see them. While lauded by NAMES (as is evident here), he seemed to be the unusual individual who wanted to make a difference, wanted to challenge, wanted to engage those of us who were not NAMES, not credentialed. He wanted to enlist everyone in the passion of his calling, and in that he succeeded admirably.

  13. Lee Gaffrey says:

    My interest in Biblical Archaeology Review goes back to 1990. I enjoyed reading BAR and particularly Hershel Shanks’ involvement and leadership in presenting such an excellent coverage of happenings in Israel archaeology. It was by reading the “dig” issue in 1997 that finally convinced me that I needed to be involved in a “dig” in Israel. I selected the Bethsaida Excavation Project as the one to bring me into the mystery and excitement of Israel archaeology. I experienced four wonderful seasons with this Project.

  14. Mark Ross says:

    Of particular importance in Mr. Shanks’ and BAR’s success would be their courageous involvement in the controversy over the Dead Sea Scrolls … which had, up to then, been monopolized by a lone scholar of dubious affinity for Israel and its people.

  15. Jimmy Nammour says:

    May his good old memory be eternal &let him rest in the peace of the Lord

  16. Barbara Chozahinoff says:

    I have been a subscriber for twenty years, and I have kept every issue, except one, which I gave to my rabbi. His comment to me was that I became elevated in his eyes for reading such a special interest magazine. As an ex=’aliyahnik”, I loved every story. I followed every contraversy about publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls, or how to interpret B.C. and B.C.E., and how to discover forgeries, and personal ‘hits’ on Hershel’s scholarship, etc.

  17. Cynthia Burdge MD says:

    Eric Clines Keynote speech at ASOR 2019 was the importance of professional archeologists writing for the general public. He cited Herschel and BAR as an excellent vehicle that disseminates factual information that illuminates
    the Biblical era. He also noted that when his mother was visiting, the only thing she was excited about was that she was going to meet Herschel! Reading BAR has had a major impact on my retired life: It led me to BAR sponsored
    Study-Travel trips, where I got to interact on a daily basis with knowledgeable scholars, attending Biblical Archeology Fest, and ultimately joining ASOR as a nonprofessional member and attending its annual meeting. At the first one, 8 talks were on sites in Anatolia. Because of BAS trips, I had previously been to all of them.
    So Herschel, mahalo nui loa.

  18. R. Peter DeLong says:

    Hershel never did make it through all the questions that were presented at the panel discussions at the BibleFest banquet each year. Now he has the time and wherewithal to get all those questions answered. God bless you, Hershel. We will miss you.

  19. Elisabet A says:

    I am an “ordinary reader” who has enjoyed reading BAR for the last 20 years or so, and I have come to admire the enduring enthusiasm for combining the knowledge of archaeology and Biblical knowledge which has been so prominent in Hershel Shanks’ publications; also, the refreshing openness in theological matters, showing equal respect to all religions and their different views of the world we live in. He has created an important legacy for professionals as well as laymen and -women. Thank you Mr Shanks!

  20. Robert Biddle says:

    From a very early age my ambition was to be an archaeologist in the Holy Land. My life didn’t turn in that direction but through the pages of Mr. Shanks’ publication. I felt that I got very close. With my sincere gratitude. R I P

  21. Paula Zurcher says:

    I have taught Bible study for 38 years and been to Israel 3 times, twice with a Jewish group and once with Christian group. Each time I have learned to admire Hershel Shanks for his understanding of all archaeology, humna faiths, hopes and struggles. I regret his passing, he was far too young (I myself am 93).

  22. Emanuel Jacov ban Gerar says:

    Thank you. Hershel, for your life long commitment and passion with BAR. My condolences to your family and friends. May the Lord bless you and keep you until we meet again.

  23. Margaret Obrecht says:

    MY subscription goes back decades and I can recall no issue which was not provocative, fascinating, and even humorous on occasion. But what stands out above all, is the way Hershel handled furious notes or contradictory ones. He was gracious, went back to check the facts as each had been presented, and wrote either a correction with thanks ora solid, but tactful response, if the writer had been wrong.

  24. Bob Armintor says:

    I have been a subscriber to BAR for years, and have enjoyed the magazine as well as the editorials penned by Hershel. He will be missed.

  25. Waldo N says:

    Honor to those who deserve the honor, and Mr. Shanks’ legacy BAR and BR, deserve to be honored. My condolences to his family and to BAR team.

  26. Patrick Solomon Kovacs says:

    Hershel Shanks (1930-2021) a pioneer in bringing archaeology to the public. May we honor his memory and may God comfort his family and friends and all who mourn his passing.

  27. Dennis and Donna Bitterman says:

    We’ve been taking BAR since 1978. He seems as a family member. May YAHWEH be with him at the Resurrection.

  28. Tom Barksdale says:

    i am an average non-scholar reader of Biblical Archaeology Review. Hershel Shanks is one of my heroes. I don’t rememv=ber exactly when I started reading BAR (or Bible Review, during its existence), but I was hooked from the start. I obviously had an existing interest in Biblical studies, but BAR whetted my appetite for more. I look forward to the magazine’s arrival with keen anticipation- and use the BAS website frequently. Just about everything I know about the Bible derives from the Review, the website, and the refernces they have provided to other expert authors, scholars, articles, and books.

  29. Ralph Zicherman says:

    He was a man before his time and saw biblical archaeology with an interest beyond the trained scholars.

  30. Greg Stanford says:

    I’m sorry to read of Mr. Shanks’ passing. I will always be appreciated of his creation of BAR that gave me a peek into the world of biblical archaeology. It had been a high school dream to become an archaeologist that apparently wasn’t o be, but the knowledge has been impactful in my ministry to children in my local church. Thankful for the legacy he leaves and prayerful for his family and friends.

  31. Charles Folz says:

    My spouse put me in touch with BAR through her university studies of religion. I have enjoyed the publication and Hershel’s editorials for some years. He will be missed!

  32. Todd Hausler says:

    Mr. Shanks will be missed. He meant a lot to me and I regret his passing, but celebrate his being home with the Lord. We shall encounter him again. Blessings. He ran a good course

  33. Rene says:

    I am very grateful he started BAR and have enjoyed reading it for the last several years. I am grateful to all who work on it. I have learned as much and it is very fascinating! May God bless you and keep you and may he bless Hershel’s family and friends as well! Thank you all!

  34. Randy McCracken says:

    Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting Hershel, I feel his loss keenly. Those of us who love biblical archaeology owe him a great debt. He made archaeology accessible to the common person. He was a fighter for what he believed in and he felt like a friend as he communicated through his editorials and articles. He will be greatly missed. My prayers are with his family and friends.

  35. David L. Bozarth says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Hershel Shanks. I first came across BAR in the late 1980’s as I was endeavoring to understand the greater context of the Bible. Through his work and his efforts my life has been enriched, enlightened, and I’ve become more knowledgeable. Often in conversations or classes. I mention something found in the pages of BAR to which the common reply has been, “where did you find that?” Well, Mr. Shanks’ vision has been fulfilled in my life and I will be forever grateful.

    To the family I send my condolences, my thoughts, and my prayers. May the One who creates peace bring peace to you in this time. May Hershel Shanks’ name and memory be a blessing, now and in the days to come,

  36. Christopher says:

    Memory Eternal

  37. Tim Ryan says:

    My condolences to the Shanks family and also to the BAS family. I worked there for one year in 2005 and had the privilege to speak with Mr. Shanks a number of times. It was clear from the dedication of his staff that they believed in the mission of BAR and held Hershel in high esteem. 250,000 subscribers is quite a rare accomplishment, but his legacy will clearly be the emancipation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  38. David Christian Clausen says:

    Hershel Shanks was a true leader in the effort to bring the discoveries of modern scholarship and archaeology to the amateur student of the Biblical world. He brought many top-flight scholars together to help with this wider dissemination of the exciting new insights made in our field. Mr. Shanks published my first article for BAR and helped me share the fruits of my labor as well. He will be missed.

  39. Stephen Schmitt says:

    Have been reading and learning from BAR for more than 30 years, Thank You, Hershel Shanks.

  40. Patricia Keenan says:

    While growing up & being raised in the Catholic Faith I always believed there were questions for me not being answered by the Church. Then I found BAR and Hershel Shanks. He helped to open my eyes and see that questions do have answers if you know where to look. Thank you Mr. Shanks for sharing the light.

  41. Patrick Levy says:

    I feel very sad. A long time BAR subscriber, I owe Hershel my avid interest in biblical archaeology. He shared his passion with enthusiasm, honesty and a constant open mind. In so doing, he not only helped a broad audience understand better Israel’s history but also created more identity awareness among many Jews. Thank you very much to you, Hershel. RIP.
    Sincere condolences to his family.

  42. I’m so very sorry to hear of Hershel’s passing. I have his fascinating book on Jerusalem and treasure the gift he gave us all with his encyclopaedic knowledge of Biblical history. Thinking of his family at this difficult time and sending them my my deepest condolences. May his memory be a blessing. to them.

  43. Patrick Tilton says:

    The 1st issue of BAR was the ground floor of an edifice that is still being constructed, and which will always scrape the sky. Newcomers to it will fly like birds onto its latest roof-like floor and discover its many-layered history as they descend towards its ground floor to encounter Hershel’s legacy. Unlike the Babel tower, the BAR tower will keep on being built, reaching into the heavens.

  44. MB says:

    Sending sincere condolences to his family.

  45. Nate Ingle says:

    I’ve enjoyed BAR since I started reading in 2006. I am so sorry to hear of his passing, as he seemed to be a real genuine guy who loved archaeology, the Bible, and educating people of both. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and those he impacted. May we continue by building on his legacy to educate.

  46. Sourav says:

    Hershel Shanks was a great man. He will be remembered..

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