My Interview with the President of the Biblical Archaeological Society (2005)

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Hershel Shanks at work

When I interviewed him in 2005, Hershel Shanks was president of the Biblical Archaeological Society, which he helped to found, and editor-in-chief of its print magazine, “Biblical Archaeology Review.”

I’ve been a BAR subscriber for many years, and it was a kick for me to interview the man who launched it and served as editor until his retirement last year. BAR has been notable for its coverage of all the liveliest controversies in the field of Biblical archaeology–most of which spilled over into the “Letters” column.

Two of the controversies covered in this interview were “Biblical minimalism” (he didn’t support it) and the purportedly ancient ossuary (bone box) that bore the inscription “James, brother of Jesus”–which the Israeli authorities had branded a modern forgery, but which Mr. Shanks felt ought to be studied further, and more deeply, by an international team of experts.

There is, unfortunately, a great deal of material in BAR by “reputable Bible scholars” who don’t believe a single word of Scripture. Readers have to learn to ignore them.

One thing Mr. Shanks did as editor, though–he kept things lively. I haven’t seen that, so far, from his successor.

8 comments on “My Interview with the President of the Biblical Archaeological Society (2005)

  1. These are exciting times, with regard to archaeology. There is significant interest in a site in NW Saudi Arabia which may bear witness to the Exodus account, including petroglyphs which seem to explain how to properly utilize manna and a split rock from which a great deal of water once flowed. Time will tell whether these are authentic or not, but it’s interesting.

  2. Joel Richardson is quite interested in this and has traveled there at least twice. Archaeological proof might stir some very serious, compelling discussion and could possibly help with the Great Commission. I’ve often wondered what would happen if the Ark was found. The rock of Horeb is also a very compelling thing and one has to admit that the rock they are showing certainly fits the bill.

    The location of Mt. Sinai is also up for debate. Mr. Richardson’s explanation makes a lot of sense. One thing it for certain, these events took place somewhere and a number of the findings in that area (NW Saudi Arabia, near ancient Midian) fit quite well with the biblical account of the Exodus.

    Tim Mahoney’s Patterns of Evidence sheds interesting light on possible timelines and the dwelling of the sons of Israel in Goshen. His second film deals with the development of the Semetic alphabet and how this seems to have happened just in time to make it possible for Moses to record the Exodus.

    My faith is based upon two main pillars. First off; that there is an Almighty Creator. I cannot conceive of our complex world or the life upon it coming about accidentally.

    Secondly; I believe the Bible to be inspired of God. I believe this for two reasons. The historic record seems to prove true. Where I live, in the desert SW, there is abundant evidence of the earth having been covered in water. I see thing literally every day in my daily activity. Also, there is the fulfilled prophecy of the Bible, which I see especially in the restoration of Abraham’s seed to the Promised Land. The Bible tells us that they will be regathered in unbelief and that after their deliverance from Gog of Magog, they will have their eyes opened. Since childhood, I have noted that Israel seems to come out on top when they are attacked and I believe that is God, protecting Abraham’s seed.

    My beliefs are not based on archaeology, but such findings serve to strengthen my trust in the Bible. We are in a tsunami of ungodly propaganda, so we can use all of the reinforcement we can get.

    1. In Revelation 11:19, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament…” I take this to mean that the Ark of the Covenant has been removed from the earth. There is a tradition that Jeremiah had it hidden before the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem–but John saw it in heaven.

    1. I used to do some pretty high-end interviews–David Limbaugh, Alan Keyes, George Barna, John Stossel. I’m a little out of practice now.

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