Seminar at Sea 2019

August 11 - 18, 2019
Led by Dr. William Schniedewind, UCLA

Our ever-popular “Seminar at Sea” program combines the finest biblical scholarship with a luxurious cruise vacation. Renowned scholar and host William Schniedewind will discuss the scribes in the Bible and their role in inventing biblical history. Plus, he’ll share what the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about scribes and more in his intriguing program.

Enjoy an unforgettable 7-day Alaska cruise this August on Holland America’s luxurious ship the ms Oosterdam — known for amazing food and superb service. As you cruise the pristine waters of the Inside Passage at an ideal time of year, savor stunning coastlines — with soaring mountain peaks, massive glaciers, and rarely-seen wildlife. Join us on this educationally enriched voyage!

Meet Your Speaker

William Schniedewind is a Professor of Biblical Studies at UCLA, and he is the author of six books, including How the Bible Became a Book (Cambridge, 1994) and A Social History of Hebrew (Yale, 2013). His research interests include social history of the ancient eastern Mediterranean world, sociolinguistics of Classical Hebrew, and ancient Biblical interpretation. [More Bio]


Writing the Bible: Scribes and Archaeology

“The Story of the Biblical Scribes from Archaeology and Inscriptions”

Lecture 1: Inventing the Alphabet, Or How Moses Learned to Write
The alphabet is one of the most important inventions of human history. It was also the tool that was adopted by the Israelite scribes who wrote the Bible. But who invented the alphabet? We trace the story of the alphabet from its invention to its adoption by the early Israelite scribes.

Lecture 2: David & Solomon’s Scribes: The Beginnings of the Bible
Biblical literature lists the first Hebrew scribes under the administration of David and Solomon. Archaeology and inscriptions now suggest these scribes were the “leftovers” of the New Kingdom Egyptian administration. The early Israelite kingdom incorporated the legacy of the Egyptian administration of the Late Bronze Age for their bureaucracy. The first Hebrew scribes adapted their predecessors’ knowledge of writing, trade, and administration. They put this knowledge into the service of the first kings of Israel — Saul, David, and Solomon.

Lecture 3: Kuntillet Ajrud & the Education of Scribes
Excavations at the remote government trade fortress at Kuntillet Ajrud uncovered a large number of inscriptions used in the educational curriculum of ancient scribes. Now we know some of their curriculum, and we see how their education influenced the writing of biblical literature.

Lecture 4: “Commander of the Fortress” Inscriptions & Military Scribes
Inscriptions from fortresses around Israel and Judah point to a special class of scribes — military commanders. Writing was an important part of the military administration, and the “Commander of Fortress” title signified both a military and administrative position. The “Commander of Fortress” was even responsible for training apprentices to read and write!

Lecture 5: The Isaiah Bulla & Prophetic Scribes
The recent publication of a seal impression with the apparent signature of “Isaiah, the prophet” raises the question about why a prophet would have his own seal. Some even question whether this is the seal of the biblical prophet Isaiah. The seal opens a window to new insights about prophets and scribes in ancient Israel and their role in composition of biblical literature.

Lecture 6: How the Bible Became a Book: Collecting the Literature
The late eighth century in Judah witnessed seminal social and political changes — the fall of Samaria, the rise of Assyria. These changes are evidenced in the archaeological record, especially in the rise of government bureaucracy and the important of writing to the administration. These changes ushered in the collection of early Hebrew literature and the beginnings of the Bible as a book.

Lecture 7: How the Bible Became Scripture: Disseminating the Bible
Ancient Judah was a traditional culture that was oriented towards oral tradition. In the late Iron Age, Judah made a sharp turn towards a textual culture that venerated the collected writings as authoritative scripture. We examine the archaeological and literature evidence for the cultural changes that made Judean literature become sacred literature.

Lecture 8: The Exile and Return of the Scribes: Canonizing the Bible
Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The people went into exile, including the scribes. Biblical literature goes into exile too, where it gets collected, edited, and even translated. The Dead Sea Scrolls illustrate different aspects of this part of the story.

Lecture 9: Q&A Session

Please click here to download the lecture schedule.


Sunday, August 11: Seattle, WA — 4:00pm

Sunday, August 11: Puget Sound (Cruising)

Monday, August 12: At Sea

Tuesday, August 13: Stephens Passage, AK (Cruising)

Tuesday, August 13: Juneau, AK — 1:00pm to 9:00pm

Enjoy your first land day on an excursion… See Mendenhall Glacier. Watch whales. Explore an underground mine and pan for gold!

Wednesday, August 14: Hubbard Glacier, AK (Cruising) — 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Thursday, August 15: Sitka, AK — 8:00am to 4:00pm

The largest United States city by land area (2,870.3 sq. miles), you’ll surely want to explore it for the day. Try touring in a Classic Car or 4x4 on your quest to find sea otters and other nature shows. Or simply stroll/bike in the historic section.

Friday, August 16: Ketchikan, AK — 7:00am to 1:00pm

Sample Alaskan culture and food at Saxman Native Village, Dance Performance & Totem Park or The Great Alaskan Lumber Jack Show & Crab Fest. Highly rated!

Saturday, August 17: Victoria, BC, Canada — 6:00pm to 11:30pm

Fill your summer evening in Canada on a Guided Food & History Tour with Tastings. Enjoy a memorable Horse-Drawn Carriage ride, too! Top it off with The Butchart Gardens Night Illuminations display, evening entertainment, and world-class fireworks display. A perfect way to close out your trip!

Sunday, August 18: Seattle, WA — 7:00am

About Accommodations

Possessing one of the highest ratios of space per person in the Holland America fleet, the 1,848-passenger Oosterdam boasts innovative, luxurious features. Expanded spa facilities — with 11 therapy rooms, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam and aromatherapy rooms — pamper passengers in one of the cruise line's most spacious spas. Elevators — two are glass-enclosed with panoramic ocean views — give access to 11 passenger decks, including a covered promenade that encircles the entire vessel and two interior promenade decks. Each stateroom is fitted with a data port for Web access, and there also is an Internet center and library. When it comes to dining, the Oosterdam offers a variety of options: gourmet meals in the two-tiered main dining room, a fine Italian restaurant, a casual eatery, a grill and a cafe that serves late-night snacks. Room service also Oosterdam offers a variety of options: gourmet meals in the two-tiered main dining room, a fine Italian restaurant, a casual eatery, a grill and a cafe that serves late-night snacks. Room service also is available at no additional cost. Activities onboard include shopping in the duty-free shops, gaming in the casino, or playing on the sports deck. Entertainment is equally varied with nine different nightclubs and lounges, including the thrilling views from the Crow's Nest. Club HAL provides younger passengers (ages 5-17) with supervised programs in the Kidzone and Waverunner rooms.



    Deposit (per person): $350.00
  • Cabin Categories
  • Inside Stateroom:
    Per person, based on double occupancy. Includes taxes.$2,540.00
    Single supplement: $1,059.00
  • Oceanview Stateroom:
    Per person, based on double occupancy. Includes taxes.$2,899.00
    Single supplement: $1,419.00
  • Verandah Stateroom:
    Per person, based on double occupancy. Includes taxes.$3,370
    Single supplement: $1,889.00
Final Payment: April 25, 2019
Cancellation Policy:

Until May 6, 2019: Full refund of payment less $100.00 administrative fee.
May 6 – 16, 2019: Refund of payment less $350 deposit and $100 administrative fee
After May 16, 2019: No refund


If you are unable to fill out the electronic registration form, please contact the Travel/Study department at 1-800-221-4644, ext. 216.

To pay off your balance, click here.


For more information contact:

Alicia Bregon
202-364-3300 ext 216
Email: [email protected]
Biblical Archaeology Society
4710 41st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016