Excavating the Bible: The Nadaba Plains Project

Speaker: Categories: Apr 14, 2001


[1hr, 18min, 57sec / 1hr, 1min, 58sec]


The April AAF presentation and discussion will center around the Madaba Plains Project-Umayri carried out in central Jordan for the past 15 years by a consortium of Adventist colleges and universities and some of the hot-button issues involving the study of archaeology and the Bible. Using as a springboard the remarkably well preserved and increasing1y significant site of Tall all-‘Umayri, Jordan”, Drs. Clark and Herr note,"we want to reflect on current issues surrounding the scientific disciplines used in archaeology today and our study of the Bible. Recent years have witnessed sparks aplenty in the debates about what have become extremely controversial finds and their interpretations. Tall al-'Umayri contains settlements or remains from at least 3,000 B.C.E. through the time of Jeremiah in the sixth century and even evidence for small occupations on up to the time of the New Testament. Most important, at least in more recent discussions, are the settlements dating immediately prior to and during the time of the biblical judges (ca. 1200-1000 B.C.E.) and from the time of Jeremiah. This site boasts one of the earliest four-room houses and certainly the best preserved one located anywhere in the Middle East. It represents the kind of house early Israelites, Ammonites and Moabites used in their newly established hill-country villages in Palestine at the time these tribal groups were settling the land. Since the site may actually be the Abel-keramim of the Jephthah story in Judges 11 and might prove to be Reubenite, we have a grand opportunity to see if the scientific endeavors of modern archaeology can mesh with the Bible's recounting of the events surrounding the birth of Israel and the time when judges like Jephthah roamed and ruled the land. Framed in this way, the  presentation and discussion will allow us to talk about the site we have worked for several 1 excavation seasons, to reflect on what archaeology means to us personally and professionally, and to take on dilemmas facing biblical archaeology today."

This presentation will be generously illustrated to help make these digs, so essential to meaningful understanding of the Bible, especially relevant to those able to participate in person on April 14.


Douglas R. Clark, earned his Ph.D.at Vanderbilt University in Biblical Studies in 1984, completed an M.Div. at Andrews and a B.A. at Walla Walla. He has been at Walla Walla since 1990 in both administrative and teaching roles. He has been involved in numerous digs and is well-known in the field of archaeology with a host of honors and publications to his credit.

Larry G. Herr, Harvard Ph.D. recipient (1977) in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, served at the SDA Theological Seminary, Far East (Manila), before joining the staff at Canadian University College in Religious Studies, 1985 to the present. He, too, has been involved in a host of archaeological excavations and is recipient of numerous professional awards. He has authored and edited many scholarly publications.

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