The Biblical Archaeology Society invites you join us this summer at our ever-popular St. Olaf program on the beautiful campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Dynamic speakers Dr. Jennie Ebeling of the University of Evansville, Indiana, and Dr. Robert Mullins of Azusa Pacific University will be our scholars-in-residence for the week. Their 20-lecture program Biblical Archaeology: Past, Present, and Future promises to be an exciting window into this fascinating, highly specialized field.
Join us as we host this exciting summer seminar in the beautiful and restorative setting of St. Olaf College. The campus boasts award-winning architecture nestled in a 350-acre woodland, set on a hilltop overlooking historic Northfield, Minnesota, a charming, two-college town with a welcoming community. St. Olaf College’s picturesque campus is located just 35 miles south of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Northfield and offers the best of two worlds: the quiet charm of a rural community and the convenience and excitement of the nearby Twin Cities.
Jennie Ebeling is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville in Indiana and co-director of the Jezreel Expedition. A former Fulbright fellow, she has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Lady Davis Trust to support research in Israel and Jordan and was appointed Annual Professor of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem in 2015–16. [More Bio]
Robert (Bob) Mullins is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University. He earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he served as a research assistant to Professor Amihai Mazar and the Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project. [More Bio]
Biblical Archaeology: Past, Present, and Future
Biblical Archaeology has come a long way since its early days a century ago, when American and European Bible scholars and archaeologists directed excavations at sites in Palestine and Transjordan with the intent of unearthing physical evidence for the people and events described in the Bible. Today, several dozen field projects led by archaeologists from Israel and abroad are using cutting-edge technologies to answer new research questions while offering hundreds of volunteers the chance to get their hands dirty digging the past. In this series of lectures, two American co-directors of excavations in Israel will give their unique perspectives on Biblical Archaeology’s past and present and offer some predictions about its future.
What is Biblical Archaeology?
In this introductory lecture, I will define Biblical Archaeology and discuss how its meaning has changed since the early days of American archaeology in the Holy Land. This will set the stage for presentations on the history of Biblical Archaeology from the late nineteenth century to the present.
Sources for Reconstructing Life in Ancient Israel
This presentation provides an overview of the sources available for reconstructing life in ancient Israel, including the Bible and extra-biblical texts, archaeological remains, art and iconography from Israel and its neighbors, and ethnographic sources from the Middle East.
The History of Women in Biblical Archaeology
Although not as well known as their male counterparts, women have played crucial roles in Biblical Archaeology since its beginnings. In this presentation, I will discuss the contributions of women to Biblical Archaeology from the early days of female Palestinian field laborers to today’s female dig directors.
The Presentation of the Past in Early Excavation Reports
Early western archaeologists in the Holy Land often lived in villages alongside their field staff and laborers, and their interpretations of what they dug up were sometimes colored by their ethnographic observations of traditional Palestinian village life. This lecture will present some examples of this phenomenon and show how it persists in popular understandings of life in ancient Israel.
Digging into Everyday Life: The Rise of Household Archaeology in Israel
This presentation will highlight the impact that household archaeology studies have had on our understanding of daily life in ancient Israel.
The Archaeological Field School in Israel: The State of the Art
Since the first archaeological field schools were established on digs in Israel some 50 years ago, thousands of undergraduate and graduate students have earned academic credit for their contributions to Biblical Archaeology. In this presentation, I will discuss the history of archaeological field schools in Israel and the logistics involved in running one today.
Great Discoveries in Archaeology 2018: The Later Periods
This presentation will highlight some major discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2018 with a focus on sites occupied during the Roman period and later.
Highlights from Recent Excavations at Jezreel
Since 2012, the Jezreel Expedition co-directed by Jennie Ebeling (University of Evansville) and Norma Franklin (University of Haifa) has shed new light on the history of this key site in the Jezreel Valley from late prehistory to the modern era. In this lecture, I will present some of the most exciting finds from recent excavation seasons, including a large winery complex that provides context for the story of Naboth’s Vineyard in 1 Kings 21.
Technology in Biblical Archaeology: Where We Are and Where We're Headed
Archaeologists working in Israel have adopted and developed new technologies for discovering, surveying, excavating, and documenting sites in recent years. Several case studies will demonstrate the impact that LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and other technologies have had on archaeological interpretation.
Biblical Archaeology and the Media
From Noah’s Ark to the James Ossuary, discoveries in Biblical Archaeology (both real and imagined) are constantly making headlines. This presentation will focus on the issues archaeologists face in a world where celebrities, con artists, and conspiracy theorists seem to dominate the archaeology news cycle.
Where in the World? The Role of Geography in Biblical Interpretation
The historical significance of Israel far surpasses the country’s small size. Since understanding Israel’s landscape can help us to better comprehend the Bible, this lecture will begin with a brief description of the land and its location within the larger ancient Middle East. We will then look at specific instances of how an appreciation for the lay of the land can enrich biblical interpretation.
The Beginnings of American Biblical Archaeology in the Holy Land
American Biblical Archaeology began with early 19th century explorers like Edward Robinson and Eli Smith who identified many biblical cities by their name preservation in the Arabic name of a site or nearby geographical feature. This paved the way for early Palestinian archaeologists like William Foxwell Albright to conduct fieldwork and develop a reliable methodologies for stratigraphic excavation and pottery typology for dating based on synchronisms with Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia.
Israel Discovers Its Past: The Rise of the Israeli School of Biblical Archaeology
Alongside fieldwork conducted by the Americans, British, Germans, and French in the Middle East, most of whom were Christian, there developed a distinctive Jewish approach to archaeology in the Holy Land. Most of these early projects focused on sites of Jewish interest such as the synagogue at Beit Alpha and the burial catacombs at Beth Shearim. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish archaeology came into its own. Today, Israeli archaeologists are among the most skilled and professional in the Middle East.
What is the Proper Relationship between the Bible and Archaeology?
For hundreds of years, communities of faith interpreted the Bible in isolation, based mostly on received tradition. With the advent of archaeology, however, an entire library of comparative material became available. Moreover, an ability to render the ancient languages of Egypt and Mesopotamia into modern tongues enabled scholars to gain new insight and understanding into the biblical text. But what is the proper relationship between archaeological discoveries and the biblical text, particularly in those instances where there is an absence of evidence? Is the Bible wrong? Are archaeologists biased in their evaluation of the evidence? In this lecture, we will explore some of these controversies and examine ways to better relate archaeology to the biblical witness.
Reading Genesis 1–11 Anew in Light of Archaeology and the Ancient Near East
Few topics in the Bible are as controversial as the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Everything from Creation to Noah’s Ark to the Tower of Babel have been subjects of debate between scholars, scientists, and the public. Archaeology and ancient texts have done much to shed light on this debate. While disagreements are likely to continue, the aim of this lecture is to put a perspective on these texts that is even-handed with the biblical material and honest about the scientific data.
Nomads or Hillbillies? The Rise of Ancient Israel in the Land of Canaan
For some 400 years from 1550–1150 B.C.E., Egypt exercised political and economic dominion over the land of Canaan. Then, in what seemed like a sudden event, it all came crashing down. There was the collapse of the great Canaanite city-state systems, the movement of migrant groups like the Sea Peoples, and the rise of small tribal kingdoms in the land of Canaan. This era of transition largely occurred during the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.E. and is part of what archaeologists call the “Iron Age I.” This is precisely when Israel and many of its neighbors emerged on the historical scene. Who were these people? Where did they come from? Were they outsiders or insiders? What languages did they speak? How reliable are the biblical accounts of this period? How do we explain Joshua’s conquest and the period of the Judges within this context?
Great Discoveries in Archaeology 2018: The Early Periods
This presentation will highlight a selection of major archaeological discoveries in 2018 with a focus on sites occupied during the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
Highlights from Recent Excavations at Abel Beth Maacah
Since 2013, the Joint Expedition to Abel Beth Maacah co-directed by Bob Mullins (Azusa Pacific University) with Naama Yahalom-Mack and Nava Panitz-Cohen (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) has shed new light on the history of this biblical city and the Upper Jordan Valley. In this lecture, I will present some of the more exciting finds from the recent and past excavation seasons, including the discovery of a unique religious cult from the time of David and the small figurine head of a bearded man who might represent an important person from the Bible.
The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah (2 Samuel 20): A Case Study in Biblical Archaeology
A big methodological question that every biblical archaeologist must address is the degree to which one can correlate finds from a biblical site to events spoken about in the Bible. Some archaeologists easily equate the two. Others exercise greater caution, knowing that many of the biblical stories have a long history and might say more about the times in which the events were written into the biblical text than the eras they purport to witness. According to the Bible, Joab encountered a “wise woman” on the city wall when he besieged Abel Beth Maacah. To what degree do the finds confirm this event set in the 10th century B.C.E.? Who was this “wise woman”? What was her role in the narrative? Was she an actual person or a literary figure serving a greater theological purpose? These topics and more will be explored as we examine the story of the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah in 2 Samuel 20:14–22 in light of the archaeological finds.
Is There a Future for Biblical Archaeology?
There was a time when discoveries from the Bible Lands engendered great interest in the public. Christian colleges and seminaries had courses in biblical archaeology and many sponsored their own archaeological projects. This is less so today. There are fewer programs in archaeology at the college level and interest has waned, though a fascination with pseudo-archaeology and their exaggerated claims still have an audience. Given these circumstances, does biblical archaeology have a future? Can we reverse course? These topics and more will be explored as we wrap up the BAS Seminar at St. Olaf’s College.
A thriving and innovative community, Northfield, Minnesota, is known for its historic downtown district along the scenic Cannon River.
Accommodations at St. Olaf College are comfortable, dormitory-style, air-conditioned rooms with two beds per room. Participants are welcome to use other campus facilities too.
Metro Express Reservations Link: Make your reservation here.
From Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport
Dept. 12:25pm – Arrive St. Olaf/Bruntrock Commons 1:10pm
Dept. 5:25pm – Arrive St. Olaf/Bruntrock Commons 6:10pm
From St. Olaf College
Dept. 10:13am – Arrive MSP 11:07am
Dept. 3:13pm – Arrive MSP 4:07pm
$15/one way – 45 minutes travel time
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Biblical Archaeology Society
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