The Face of Bar

By André Lemaire

Biblical Archaeology Review has now a long road of 42 years behind it. For me, this long road has a face: its founder and editor, Hershel Shanks. For more than 30 years, it has always been a great pleasure to meet him in congresses and colloquia in Israel, America, and Europe. He is passionate about the Bible and eager to know anything that could be connected to the Bible.

Aware that he is not himself a researcher, he is very sensitive to the public reaction to new discoveries or interpretations, and he knows how to ask good questions. At the same time, as a lawyer, he is well aware that the media can be manipulated, as was the case in 2003. When there is debate—and as a journalist, Hershel loves debate!—he tries to have the arguments of the various positions clearly presented by the scholars themselves. To be able to broadly publicize archaeological discoveries as soon as possible, he succeeds to have personal and warm contacts with as many archaeologists as possible. Scholars may thank him for making biblical archaeology not a small business between a few specialists but a forum open to a general audience.

Hershel, you may be proud of what you have done for biblical archaeology.

André Lemaire and Hershel Shanks outside of the Israel Museum. Photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch.

André Lemaire is a Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic Philology and Epigraphy in the Department of Historical and Philological Sciences at the École Pratique des Hautes Études at the Sorbonne in Paris. He has worked for more than 35 years in the fields of Northwest Semitic epigraphy, archaeology, ancient Hebrew literature and history and has published more than ten books and 400 articles on those subjects.

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. Across more than four decades, beginning in 1974 until his retirement in 2017, Hershel transformed BAR from a relatively modest publication reflecting his deep personal interest in the biblical past into the world’s best-selling and most widely read biblical archaeology magazine, enjoyed by millions. 

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.

In Memory of Hershel Shanks Main Page

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