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FAQs

ANSWER: Archaeology does not prove or disprove the Bible. The Bible is a religious book that is “self-validating” as I would put it. On the other hand, archaeological finds do sometimes confirm certain persons or events referred to in the Bible. For example, an inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the governor of Palestine who sentenced Jesus to death, has been found.

ANSWER: Let me begin by saying that I do not consider myself to be an archaeologist. I am a New Testament scholar who uses archaeology as one more tool in researching the historical context of the New Testament. To become an archaeologist simply spend ten to twenty years doing excavations, writing up your dig results, and focusing your career on the subject. So, if you want to become an archaeologist, start by going on a dig.

ANSWER: I began my research and study of the New Testament by immersing myself in the Jewish sources (the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, the Rabbinic literature, etc.). But then I was turned on to the social science interpretation of the New Testament. In the last twenty years, I have added archaeological data and research. These are not mutually exclusive stages but add-ons.

ANSWER: What I have personally found is rather boring to most persons. I have found, of course, a lot of pottery and pottery pieces. I have dug up a few coins, excavated many walls and floors, and dug out ritual baths. But it is not what treasure we find individually. Archaeology is not treasure hunting. It is the aggregate of what the team finds year after year that matters. We take the remains as a whole and try to interpret them. Then we ask how this interpretation influences our understanding of the Bible. I sometimes tell those who ask me, “What are you looking for over there?” that I am looking for people. This startles some excavation directors (“Oh no! He’s looking for dead bodies!”) What I mean is I want to infer people from the remains. I want to know what it was like to be that person based on what I can see that has been left behind. To me, that is the real treasure. But no. I have not found the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant.

ANSWER: I am currently finishing up three works. One is a historical work entitled, The Archaeology of Daily Life: Ordinary People in the Late Second Temple Period. The second is a work of fiction entitled Inscrutable. This novel is, I hope, an engaging mystery and at the same time a teaching vehicle for how to think about God. The third work is a study of twelve parables for small church groups. I expect and hope that all three should be released to the public around one year from now.